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Trans adults five times more likely to have attempted suicide than straight, cis peers

Vic Parsons August 24, 2021
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Trans suicide rates are four times higher than for cishet adults.

Stock photo of a transgender woman with an espresso standing at a bar and contemplating. (Zackary Drucker/The Gender Spectrum Collection)

Trans adults are five times more likely than straight, cisgender adults to have made at least one suicide attempt in their lifetime, a new report has found.

Forty-two per cent of trans adults have made at least one serious suicide attempt in their life, compared with eight per cent of cisgender, heterosexual (cis-het) adults. Twenty-four per cent of trans adults have made multiple serious attempts to take their own life, compared with one per cent of cis-het adults.

Trans adults are also significantly more likely to have self-harmed – 49 per cent of trans adults have self harmed more than once, compared to five per cent of cis-het adults. Twice as many trans adults (eight per cent) have self-harmed once, compared to cis-het adults (four per cent).

And when it comes to thoughts of suicide, 66 per cent of trans adults have thought about killing themselves more than once in their lives, compared with 16 per cent of cis-het adults.

The health disparities and barriers to care for trans communities are described in a new report by the Center for American Progress, a liberal think-tank based in Washington, DC.

The elevated suicide risks for trans adults stem from social factors including family rejection, institutional discrimination, living in poverty, housing insecurity, criminalisation and a lack of access to gender-affirming healthcare. These issues are not all unique to trans adults, but disproportionately affect trans communities, especially trans people of colour.

The report draws on existing research to show that discrimination, stigma and violence significantly affect the physical and mental health of trans adults, who suffer from more chronic health conditions and are more likely to have health problems related to HIV, substance use, mental illness, and sexual and physical violence than cis adults.

Trans adults are more than twice as likely to have depression compared to cis-het adults and report having poor mental health for twice as many days. Trans adults are also more likely to have people treat them as though they are stupid, dishonest or scary than cis-het adults.

Moreover, trans adults are not only far more likely to have poorer health than cis adults, but encounter challenges and inequalities in accessing healthcare. The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated these issues, especially for trans people of colour, the report concludes.

Suicide is preventable. Readers who are affected by the issues raised in this story are encouraged to contact Samaritans on 116 123 (www.samaritans.org), or Mind on 0300 123 3393 (www.mind.org.uk). ​Readers in the US are encouraged to contact the National Suicide Prevention Line on 1-800-273-8255.

Related topics: mental health

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