Where teenagers live could play a part in suicide rates, a study involving nearly 32,000 high school students has suggested.
The study, published online by the journal Pediatrics, claims suicide attempts by gay teens - and even straight kids - are more common in politically conservative areas where schools don't have programs supporting gay rights.
Those factors raised the odds and were a substantial influence on suicide attempts, even when known risk contributors like depression and being bullied were considered, said study author Mark Hatzenbuehler, a Columbia University psychologist and researcher.
Dr. Paul Hardy, a pastoral counselor with Recovery for Life, questioned the findings of this report and discussed the realities leading to teen suicide, on CBN NewsChannel Midday News, April 18. Click play for his comments.
In conservative areas, 20 percent of teens who identify themselves as gay say they have tried to commit suicide, compared to 4 percent of straight teens.
Hatzenbuehler suggests a lack of supporting programs raises the chance of suicide.
The research focused only on the state of Oregon and created a social index to assess which outside factors might contribute to suicidal tendencies. Other teen health experts called it a powerful, novel way to evaluate a tragic social problem.
The study is based on 2006-08 surveys of 11th-graders that state health officials conducted in Oregon classrooms; Oregon voter registration statistics; Census data on same-sex couples; and public school policies on gays and bullying.