Year: 2022 Source: Psychology, Public Policy, and Law. (2022). SIEC No: 20220563

Sexual minority youth are at elevated risk for suicide, and previous research supports an association between hate crimes targeting sexual minority youth and suicide attempts. Hate crime laws (HCLs) may reduce  bias-motivated victimization or reflect community support for marginalized groups, although not all states with such laws explicitly name sexual minorities as a protected class. We used a quasi-experimental  design to examine whether the inclusion of sexual orientation as an explicitly protected group within states’ HCLs was associated with decreased suicide attempts among high school aged adolescents using data  from the Youth Risk Behavior Survey. Results showed that sexual minority youth attempted suicide at rates 2.9 to 4.3 times higher than heterosexual youth. The enactment of enumerated HCLs was associated  with a small but significant 1.2–percentage point (95% confidence interval, CI [1.8%, 0.6%], p , .001) reduction in suicide attempts among high school aged adolescents, and these reductions were not specific  to sexual minority youth. Among sexual minority youth, enumerated HCLs were associated with larger reductions in suicide attempts among questioning and bisexual youth than gay and lesbian peers. By  contrast, general HCLs that did not explicitly name sexual minorities as a protected group did not differ from the absence of any HCL in their association with suicide attempts (.5%, 95% CI [1.6%, 0.7%], p =  .43). We conclude that HCLs may help to decrease rates of adolescent suicide attempt, but this potential appears to be contingent on naming sexual minorities as a protected group.