Study: More than 40% of trans adults have attempted suicide

One of the authors said that increased prejudice is contributing to poor mental health.

LOS ANGELES – A study from the Williams Institute at the UCLA School of Law has found more than 80% of transgender adults have thought about suicide.

The study also found that 42% have attempted suicide and 56% have done non-suicidal self-injury.

“The rates of suicidal ideation and self-injury among transgender people are alarming—particularly for transgender nonbinary adults,” said study author Ilan H. Meyer, Distinguished Senior Scholar of Public Policy at the Williams Institute. “A lack of societal recognition and acceptance of gender identities outside of the binary of cisgender man or woman and increasing politically motivated attacks on transgender individuals, increase stigma and prejudice and related exposure to minority stress, which contributes to the high rates of substance use and suicidality we see among transgender people.”

The study used data from the U.S. Transgender Population Health Survey (TransPop).

Trans people do have rates of drinking and drug use similar to that of cisgender people, the institute said. But they are much more likely to deal with mental health problems. Compared to cis adults, trans adults were seven times more likely to contemplate suicide, four times more likely to attempt it, and eight times more likely to engage in non-suicidal self-injury.

Other findings include:

  • Nearly one-third of transgender individuals reported hazardous drinking (28%) and problematic drug use (31%).
  • Among transgender adults, 44% reported recent suicidal ideation, 7% reported a recent suicide attempt, and 21% reported recent non-suicidal self-injury.
  • The majority (82%) of transgender people have accessed formal mental health care, compared to 47% of cisgender adults.
  • About one-quarter (26%) of transgender people sought support from other sources such as religious and spiritual leaders and alternative medicine practitioners, compared to 20% of cisgender adults.
  • Transgender nonbinary people were four times more likely to engage in hazardous drinking compared to transgender women.

“Evidence-based interventions are needed to mitigate the risk of serious mental health outcomes among transgender people,” said lead author Jeremy D. Kidd, assistant professor of clinical psychiatry at Columbia University. “This might include increasing access to gender-affirming care, or improving transgender community connectedness, which are related to lower rates of suicidality.”

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