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The Truth About Transgender Suicide Rates

​The Truth About Transgender Suicide Rates

Transgender people are at an alarmingly high risk of suicide, according to a first-of-its-kind study.

Transgender people are at an alarmingly high risk of suicide in comparison to other groups, according to a first-of-its-kind study.

Published Tuesday in the Journal of the American Medical Association, a study from Danish researchers provides landmark analysis of transgender suicide rates. While LGBTQ+ individuals — particularly transgender people — have been known to be a high-risk group, this most recent study is the first in the world to analyze national suicide data for them.

After an exhaustive analysis of health and legal records from 6,657,456 Danish-born individuals, transgender people were found to have 7.7 times the rate of suicide attempts and 3.5 times the rate of suicide deaths compared to the rest of the population

“This is beyond doubt a huge problem that needs to be looked at,” Dr. Morten Frisch, a sexual health epidemiologist at Statens Serum Institut in Copenhagen and co-author of the report, told The New York Times.

The study comes at a time when Republican lawmakers are increasingly targeting the LGBTQ+ community through laws outlawing drag performances, discussion of sexual orientation and gender identity in classrooms, and banning gender-affirming health care. This has been proven to have a negative impact on the mental health of LGBTQ+ youth, which advocates say could increase suicides.

In the United States, sexual orientation and gender identity are not recorded on death certificates, making it difficult to gather data surrounding suicide rates. In Denmark, researchers were able to pull information from hospital records and applications for legal gender changes, find around 3,800 transgender individuals, 43 percent of whom had received a psychiatric diagnosis in comparison to 7 percent of cisgender citizens.

Between 1980 and 2021, the study found 92 suicide attempts and 12 suicide deaths among transgender individuals, a rate considerably higher than that among cisgender people. As the United States and Denmark have similar suicide rates, the study may also be applicable in the U.S.

“Trans people face widespread poverty, widespread discrimination, they’re more likely to experience homelessness, they’re overrepresented in our nation’s prison system, our nation’s foster care system,” added Gillian Branstetter, a communications strategist at the American Civil Liberties Union. “That material lack has very real consequences on their lives, up to and including early deaths.”

If you are having thoughts of suicide or are concerned that someone you know may be, resources are available to help. The 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline at 988 is for people of all ages and identities. Trans Lifeline, designed for transgender or gender-nonconforming people, can be reached at (877) 565-8860. The lifeline also provides resources to help with other crises, such as domestic violence situations. The Trevor Project Lifeline, for LGBTQ+ youth (ages 24 and younger), can be reached at (866) 488-7386. Users can also access chat services at TheTrevorProject.org/Help or text START to 678678.

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