Transgender adolescents attempt to commit suicide more often than teenagers whose identity matches their gender at birth and trans-male youngsters are at high risk, according to a study in the United States.
Approximately half of the transgender teens who identify themselves as men but who have assigned a female gender at birth have tried to commit suicide at least once, according to the study. And 42 percent of adolescents who do not identify exclusively as men or women have taken at least one previous suicide attempt.
About 30 percent of trans-female teenagers – who identify as women but have birth certificates that label them as a man – have pleaded suicide at least once, just like 28 percent of adolescents who have doubts about their gender identity, discovered study too.
In contrast to all these groups of transgender teens, only 18 percent of women and 10 percent of men who are cisgender – meaning their gender identity corresponds to what they say on their birth certificates – attempted suicide.
"Our findings are surprising," said study leader Russell Toomey from the University of Arizona at Tucson.
"Previous studies have already shown that transgender teens report higher levels of suicidal behavior compared to cisgender adolescents, but our study is the first to go beyond these types of rough comparisons to investigate whether there are critical differences in suicidal behavior within transgender youth populations, "Early Toomey by e-mail.
"Although all four transgender subgroups reported higher levels compared to cisgender female and male youths, it is important for targeted prevention and intervention efforts to know that transmasculine and non-binary Trans youths are more at risk," added Toomey toe.
To assess the link between gender identity and suicide risk, researchers have examined the research data collected between 2012 and 2015 of more than 120,000 young people across the country, ranging in age from 11 to 19 years.
Participants were on average 15 years old and less than 1 percent of them identified as transgender.
The study asked teens, among other things, whether they had tried to kill themselves or once.
In general, nearly 14 percent of participants said they had this, researchers in Pediatrics report.
The education level of parents and the socioeconomic status of the family did not appear to influence the question whether teenagers would commit suicide, according to the study.
Suicide is the second leading cause of death among teenagers and young adults in the US, researchers note.
The study was not a controlled experiment to prove whether and how the gender identity of teenagers could influence suicidal behavior.
Trans teenagers may be at higher risk of suicide due to being marginalized or experiencing discrimination, victimization or harassment, Toomey said.
"For transgender youth, for example, we know that rejection, discrimination and victimization from friends, school, community and family are associated with a greater risk of suicidal behavior," said Toomey. "Transgender youths can respond to these experiences by internalizing this rejection (eg shame), feeling like a burden to others or seeing that they do not belong."
Another limitation of the investigation is that although it was implemented nationally, it was not nationally representative; it included many teenagers in the countryside and in the suburbs and relatively few urban adolescents.
And it is possible that teenagers do not report any history of suicide attempts, the authors acknowledge.
"It is a fact that we do not know why transgender teenagers have these incredibly high suicide rates," said John Ayers, a researcher at the University of California, San Diego, who was not involved in the research.
"It is crucial that we start investing in why, instead of just counting how much, especially for designing effective prevention campaigns," Ayers said by email.
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