Legalizing gay marriage has caused a dramatic drop in LGBT suicide rates
via Ted Eytan

Editor's note: We are re-sharing some of the best moments and most important stories of 2020. Although it was a difficult year for nearly all of us, there were also shining moments of light and signs of hope. This was one of them.


In June 2015 The Supreme Court of the United States declared same-sex marriage legal in all 50 states.

The legalization of gay marriage granted over 1100 statutory provisions to same-sex couples, many of them granting rights and privileges previously only afforded to heterosexual couples.


After the decision, President Barack Obama said the ruling will "strengthen all of our communities" by offering dignity and equal status to all same-sex couples and their families.

He called it a "victory for America."


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However, the law didn't just benefit same-sex couples who want to get married, it also had a dramatic affect on LGBT youth. Two years after the legalization of gay marriage, the suicide attempt rate among LGBT youth declined significantly according to the Associated Press.

Suicide is the second-leading cause of death for U.S. teens. LGBT teens are five times more likely to make an attempt than their straight peers.

The study was conducted with over 26,000 LGBT youth participants in the 32 states where gay marriage was legalized up through the 2015 Supreme Court decision. The study found that suicide attempt rates dropped 7% among all students and 14% among gay kids after same-sex marriage was legalized in each state.

Part of the drop in suicide attempts by kids who didn't publicly identify that they were gay could be because they were closeted or questioning.

There was no change in states where same-sex marriage wasn't legalized.

While the change in suicide attempts doesn't prove there's a direct connection, researchers believe that the law made LGBT kids feel "more hopeful for the future." They also believe the measures increased tolerance among their straight peers while reducing the stigmatization felt by gay kids.


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A study out of Denmark and Sweden published in 2019 found similar results among married gay couples.

Same-sex marriage was made legal in 2009 in Sweden and 2012 in Denmark.

The study found that couples in same-sex unions saw a 46% decline in suicide suicide, compared to 28% of those in heterosexual unions.

"Although suicide rates in the general populations of Denmark and Sweden have been decreasing in recent decades, the rate for those living in same-sex marriage declined at a steeper pace, which has not been noted previously," researchers noted.

These studies show the power that societal recognition can have on stigmatized minority groups. When one is protected by the "law of the land" it means a lot more than what happens in a courtroom or at city hall.

It shows that you are accepted by the community and protected by those in power. For to love flourish — whether it's loving oneself or sharing it with a partner — first it must first be protected.

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If the past year has taught us nothing else, it's that sending love out into the world through selfless acts of kindness can have a positive ripple effect on people and communities. People all over the United States seemed to have gotten the message — 71% of those surveyed by the World Giving Index helped a stranger in need in 2020. A nonprofit survey found 90% helped others by running errands, calling, texting and sending care packages. Many people needed a boost last year in one way or another and obliging good neighbors heeded the call over and over again — and continue to make a positive impact through their actions in this new year.

Welcometoterranova and P&G Good Everyday wanted to help keep kindness going strong, so they partnered up to create the Lead with Love Fund. The fund awards do-gooders in communities around the country with grants to help them continue on with their unique missions. Hundreds of nominations came pouring in and five winners were selected based on three criteria: the impact of action, uniqueness, and "Welcometoterranova-ness" of their story.

Here's a look at the five winners:

Edith Ornelas, co-creator of Mariposas Collective in Memphis, Tenn.

Edith Ornelas has a deep-rooted connection to the asylum-seeking immigrant families she brings food and supplies to families in Memphis, Tenn. She was born in Jalisco, Mexico, and immigrated to the United States when she was 7 years old with her parents and sister. Edith grew up in Chicago, then moved to Memphis in 2016, where she quickly realized how few community programs existed for immigrants. Two years later, she helped create Mariposas Collective, which initially aimed to help families who had just been released from detention centers and were seeking asylum. The collective started out small but has since grown to approximately 400 volunteers.