tw: suicide stats
I'm very - perhaps too - fond of asking why people so rarely look at their actions in the context of "what happens next?" As Peter Cook might have asked, did A Question Of Sport
die in vain?
Back when the same-sex marriage bill was wending its way through parliament, we heard many arguments for and against. Some were coherent. Some were respectable. There's a fun venn diagram to be drawn of which were one, neither or both.
Now, I've just been reading some research from the USA looking at the impacts of same-sex marriage legislation there, where change happened in bursts from state to state over several years.
No, not at the number of weddings and the impact on the sale of top hats and fabulous frocks. One of the other
impacts same-sex marriage has had.
It's based on huge sample sizes and shows one of the effects of allowing same-sex marriage nationwide was about 134,000 fewer adolescents attempting suicide each year. Looking at numbers before and after, there's a 7 percent reduction in the proportion of all high-school students reporting a suicide attempt over the previous year, and a 14 percent drop among LGB students, when same-sex marriage becomes lawful where you live.
Often we talk about these kind of statistics but we rarely pause to turn them round. To consider the "what if", the "what happens next" of the path not taken. The path we didn't take thanks to the passage of the two same-sex marriage bills in Wales & England and in Scotland.
US and UK culture are in very many ways similar. So with about a quarter of their population we might rule-of-thumb that the impact here is 134,000 divided by four - 33,500 fewer young people attempting to end their lives each year in the UK. Each year. Our 2013 vote is four years ago already: so the change is 33,500 upon 33,500 upon 33,500 upon...
What an amazing number. What a horrifying number. For the 400 MPs who voted to allow same-sex marriage, what a humbling number. Yes, you let some people get married, and that was beautiful. But "what happened next" was a huge positive impact on the mental health and even survival of young people. You let some people get married and, thanks to an unwritten clause in the Bill, you saw to it that thousands did not try to end their lives early. An unknowable number of parents never came home to the horrible ultimate consequence of social, legal and institutional homophobia.
And for the 175 MPs (and indeed 148 Peers) who planted their colours against the tide of history, with numbers like these the nature of their actions and motives is laid bare. We can see what they were actively, consciously, premeditatedly complicit in, what they were voting for,
because let's be frank: while we didn't have these figures, we and they knew the answer to the "what happens next" question all along.
A handful of the 175 have said they'd vote differently today. We have to conclude that the rest are proud of the future they were voting for, and take comfort that they didn't get what they wanted.