LGBTQ+ Health Updates

LGBTQ+ Health Updates

September 21, 2018
3 min read

Up to half of transgender teens attempt suicide

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Photo of Russell Toomey
Russell Toomey

Between 30% and 51% of transgender teenagers have previously attempted suicide, with the highest rates reported for those who identified as transgender male and nonbinary, according to research published in Pediatrics.

“This study documents very clearly that transgender youth are at higher risk for suicidal behaviors compared to their cisgender peers, particularly those who identify as transmasculine or nonbinary,” Russell Toomey, PhD, an associate professor of family studies and human development and chair of the Youth Development and Resilience Initiative at The University of Arizona, told Infectious Diseases in Children. “In combination with prior research. our findings suggest that prevention and intervention efforts need to be aimed at mitigating the stressors that contribute to these overwhelming disparities, such as family rejection or peer bullying related to one’s gender identity.”

Toomey and colleagues examined the rates of self-reported suicide attempts among six gender identity groups, including female, male, transgender female, transgender male, nonbinary and questioning. Survey data were gathered from teenagers aged between 11 and 19 years between June 2012 and May 2015.

Of the 120,617 teenagers included in the analysis, approximately 14% had attempted suicide. Those most likely to report ever attempting suicide were transgender male (50.8%) teenagers, followed by nonbinary (41.8%), transgender female (29.9%), questioning (27.9%), female (17.6%) and male (9.8%) teenagers.

Identifying as nonheterosexual increased suicide risk for all except nonbinary teenagers, the researchers said. They found no other sociodemographic characteristics related to suicide attempts made by transgender adolescents.

Awareness of the problem is a critical first step, yet pediatricians likely need additional information in order to work affirmatively and effectively with transgender youth populations,” Toomey said. “Lack of basic information is a critical hurdle for many pediatricians whose formal education may not have provided any or very little information about transgender people.” – by Katherine Bortz

Disclosures: The authors report no relevant financial disclosures.