Researchers discover reasons behind high rates of attempted suicide within the transgender community


The results of the National Transgender Discrimination Survey, conducted in 2011, showed that 41 percent of transgender and gender-nonconforming individuals attempt suicide at some point in their lifetimes.

A group of researchers looked into this astounding statistic and tried to determine some of the reasoning behind why transgender people were nearly nine times more likely to attempt suicide than the national average, the LA Times reported.

The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention and the Williams Institute at UCLA school of Law discovered that suicide attempts were higher if the person had faced physical or sexual violence or discrimination at their workplace or school.

The research also found that 69 percent of transgender people who became homeless as a result of discrimination or bigotry had attempted suicide. The research also indicated that 60 percent of gender-nonconforming people who had been turned away by medical professionals had tried to take their own lives.

The survey also indicated that two-thirds of participants who had attempted suicide had experienced violence from family members. Unsurprisingly, suicide attempts were much lower among transgender individuals whose families were supportive of their coming out.

“This report punctuates what PFLAG families know is fundamental—that there is life-saving merit, demonstrable value, and paramount need for family acceptance,” policy director for PFLAG National, Diego Sanchez, said.

Findings also indicated that transgender people who were either “out” or visibly gender-nonconforming were at a greater risk of being discriminated against and therefore were at higher risk of suicide.

In addition to which, transgender people who suffered from a mental health condition, were of lower income, or were HIV-positive, all saw a heightened risk of attempted suicide.

Higher education—such as a graduate degree—showed to lower the risk of suicide for transgender people to 31 percent. Although low in comparison to the high risk factors—this statistic is still quite high in comparison to the attempted suicide rates of those who are not transgender or gender-nonconforming.

“It’s alarming all across the board,” the manager of transgender research at the Williams Institute, Jody L. Herman, said.

The researchers involved in analyzing this three-year-old survey, based on the results of more than 6,400 participants, warned that it was unclear if the survey represented all of the transgender and gender-nonconforming population in the United States. With that said, they also pointed out that other US (and global) surveys which collected data on rates of attempted suicide within the transgender community demonstrated “an unparalleled level of suicidal behavior among transgender adults.”


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