New Study Reveals Alarming Attempted Suicide Rates for Transgender Teens

Research from the University of Arizona shows which transgender identities are most at risk.

By [Mila Madison](https://www.themaven.net/transgenderuniverse/user/@MilaMadison "<span style=\\\\\\\\\\\"font-size:13pt;font-family:Georgia;color:#000000;background-color:#ffffff;font-weight:400;font-style:normal;font-variant:normal;text-decoration:underline;-webkit-text-decoration-skip:none;text-decoration-skip-ink:none;ver")

The study looked at 120,617 adolescents between the ages of 11-19. The primary objective was to look at the rates of suicide behavior for six identity groups: transgender males, transgender females, non-binary, cisgender males, cisgender females and those who were questioning their identities. The research team was lead by Russell Toomey, and used data from the Profiles of Student Life: Attitudes and Behaviors survey, which was collected over a 36-month period between 2012 and 2015. The results were published in in the journal Pediatrics on September 11th.

The research revealed that 14% of all the adolescents surveyed had at one time attempted suicide. Even more alarming were the astoundingly high rates among the transgender and non-binary teens compared to the cisgender groups.

50.8% of the transgender male adolescents in the study had reported an attempted suicide. The rate was 41.8% for the non-binary adolescents and 29.9% for the transgender female adolescents. Those who were questioning revealed a rate of 27.9%. The numbers were significantly lower for the cisgender teens. The rate was 17.6% for cisgender females and 9.8% for cisgender males.

According to Toomey, the team had hoped that knowing the disparities between the different identity groups would help to improve overall prevention efforts.

To date, research on transgender adolescent suicide behaviors has really focused on comparing transgender youth as a whole group to cisgender youth as a whole group, rather than looking for any within-group differences that might exist, which we know might be beneficial knowledge for prevention and intervention efforts," Toomey told Medical Express. More research is needed to understand why transmasculine individuals are most at risk, but the finding aligns with research on suicide attempts in the cisgender population, which has shown that females are more likely to attempt suicide than males, although males are more likely to die by suicide because they more often use lethal means. This suggests that the ways in which individuals assigned female at birth are socialized may contribute to the heightened risk.

The study also found that sexual orientation had increased suicide risk for almost everyone in the survey with the only exception being the non-binary population.

"Nonbinary youth do not identify as totally masculine or totally feminine, so it complicates an understanding of sexual orientation, which is rooted in a binary, male-female understanding of gender. Thus, for these youth, the combination of gender and sexual orientation may be more complicated," Toomey said.

The study also revealed that socioeconomic factors had affected the rates in cisgender teens, but not the transgender and non-binary identified teens. The rates improved for cisgender adolescents when their parents were either college educated or whether they grew up in an urban area compared to a rural one. These factors had no effect of the transgender and non-binary teens.

Cisgender teens who belonged to a racial or ethnic minority had revealed themselves to be a higher suicide risk, though minority status had no effect on the transgender teens. According to Toomey, the reason might be that an adolescent may learn how to cope with marginalization based on one of their identities, and that helps them cope at the intersection of multiple identities.

In the future, Toomey plans to look at how other factors may affect transgender and non-binary adolescents to help improve current suicide prevention and intervention strategies.

If you are ever in crisis or in need of support, please call one of the resources below:

Trans Lifeline - (877) 565-8860

Trevor Project Lifeline - (866) 488-7386

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline - (800) 273-8255

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