Transgender teens have a significantly higher suicide risk than cis teens, shocking new study confirms
A new study has confirmed that trans teens are at greater risk of suicide than their cis peers.
Researchers surveyed 1,148 transgender teens and 972 cisgender teens aged 14 to 18 across the United States – and what they found was shocking.
Trans teens ‘twice as likely’ to attempt suicide compared to cisgender, heterosexual teens.
The survey found that found that 50.3 per cent of transgender teens have attempted suicide, compared to just 23.4 per cent for teens who identify as both cisgender and heterosexual.
Trans teens were also more than four times as likely to have made a suicide attempt requiring medical attention.
84.8 per cent of transgender teens self-reported suicidal ideation (suicidal thoughts), while 72.5 per cent reported having planned for a suicide attempt.
The study notes that “transgender males, transgender females, and non-binary adolescents assigned female at birth are at especially high risk for suicidal ideation and attempt”.
Co-author Dr Michael Marshal explained that he had noticed a surge in trans teens attending the university’s Services for Teens at Risk Center, prompting the research.
He said: “I wanted to learn more about the risk factors these particular youth might experience. There was nothing out there in research that could help me understand how to help them in therapy with their struggles.
“One of the key problems they face is this notion that everyone else in the world can essentially invalidate their identity by just telling them it’s not OK to identify as transgender.
“Their identities are hidden, and when they’re hidden, it’s easy for other people to discriminate against them. This causes a lot of pain and suffering.”
Using correct pronouns and gender ‘can help trans teens feel included’.
Lead author Dr Brian Thoma, assistant professor of psychiatry, said: “Unfortunately, this is the norm for transgender adolescents in the US right now.
“It’s really important that we examine some of the psychosocial stressors that could be underlying these suicidality disparities between transgender and cisgender youth.
“Once we look at that more, we’ll have more information about how to develop prevention and intervention efforts to reduce these rates.”
Thoma said that companies, organisations and members of the public can help by taking “simple steps” to foster an environment “where transgender individuals feel included”.
He added: “This can include things like using their chosen names or correct pronouns that align with their current gender identities.”
Previous research suggested that consistently using the correct name and pronouns for trans people can reduce their rates of anxiety, depression and suicidal thoughts to almost the same levels as their cisgender counterparts.
If you are in the US and are having suicidal thoughts, suffering from anxiety or depression, or just want to talk, call the National Suicide Prevention Line on 1-800-273-8255. If you are in the UK, you can contact the Samaritans on 116 123.
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