As mentioned below (Using Suicide to Push Gay Cause Reprehensible!) ”gay suicide” is being cited by some pro-bill officials and submitters, as a bona fide reason why marriage should be redefined to include same-sex couples (but not polygamists, trans genders or bisexuals, because apparently “equality” and “anti-discrimination” does not apply to them).
NZ Family First made a written submission to parliament on the much cited gay suicide rate.
“MISREPRESENTING RESEARCH ON TEEN SUICIDE
We note comments made by politicians and supporters of the bill relating to teen suicide. They have referred to research done by the New Zealand Adolescent Health Research group, and they suggest that the disproportionately high rates of suicide attempts by same-sex attracted teens is due in part to the current definition of marriage.
But significantly, the report says:
“It is apparent that further investigation of potential differences according to sexual attraction is warranted and that studies in the area of human sexuality require some understanding of a range of inter-related concepts, with the issues of definition and description holding particular importance.” (page 5)
And in a comparison of rates between 2001 and 2007, the report says:
“There were no major changes observed between the two surveys (2001 and 2007) in the proportions of same/both-sex-attracted students reporting depressive symptoms or suicide attempts, even though there were substantial reductions in suicide attempts among opposite sex- attracted students over that time.” (page 21)
This is significant because during this period of time, major changes were made to legislation regarding same-sex couples including the Civil Union Act and the Relationships Act. If the assertions were correct, there should have been a drop in these rates.
Massachusetts has been tracking gay high school students for a decade using the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention’s Youth Risk Behaviour Survey. In 2001, gay teens in Massachusetts were almost four times more likely to have attempted suicide (31% vs. 8%). In 2007 – after four years of legalised same-sex marriage in that state – gay teens were still about four times more likely to attempt suicide than non-gay teens (29% vs. 6%).
What politicians and supporters also didn’t mention was one of the conclusions from the Fergusson, Horwood & Beautrais 1999 study (quoted in the Youth ’07 report) –
“it has been argued that because of a series of social processes that centre on homophobic attitudes, GLB youth are exposed to serious personal stresses that increase their likelihood of suicidal behaviour. However, a reappraisal of these claims showed them not to be well founded in evidence, and reviews of this issue concluded that problems in existing research were such that no clear conclusions about the role of sexual orientation in suicidal behaviour could be drawn.”
Teen suicide is always a tragedy. But tragedies should not be manipulated in order to advance an agenda.
The attempts to argue that if we allow same-sex marriage, same-sex attracted teens will be less likely to have disproportionately high rates of alcohol and other drug-abuse problems, depression, other mental health problems, self-harm, unsafe sexual behaviour, including HIV risk, and suicide attempts are not supported by research, and are therefore not relevant to this particular debate.