Transgender, sexual minority teens at high risk of suicidal thoughts
Suicide is the second leading cause of death in adolescents and young adults aged 15-24 years. Sexual minority youth those attracted to the same gender or multiple genders or who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual or queer are also at increased risk of mental health issues, suicidal ideation (thoughts) and suicide attempts.
According to new research published in Canadian Medical Association Journal, Transgender and nonbinary teens are at much higher risk of suicidal thoughts and suicide attempts than their cis gender peers.
The transition from adolescence to adulthood is a very stressful time for all young people, but particularly for gender and sexual minority teens. These findings, showing dramatic increases in suicide risk, should sound a clarion call that additional support is needed.
As the risk of thoughts of suicide and attempts is not well studied in transgender and nonbinary youth, researchers analyzed data from 6800 adolescents aged 15–17 years, 99.4% of whom were cisgender, meaning they identify as the gender they were assigned at birth, and 0.6% were transgender, meaning they identify as a gender different from that assigned at birth.
The majority accounting for78.6% of respondents were heterosexual, 14.7% were attracted to multiple genders, 4.3% were unsure of their attraction, 1.6% were girls attracted to girls, and 0.8% were boys attracted to boys.
Overall, 14% of teens experienced suicidal ideation within the previous year, and 6.8% had previously attempted suicide. Transgender youth were 5 times more likely to think about suicide and 7.6 times more likely to have ever attempted suicide than cisgender youth.
The researchers hence conclude that suicide prevention programs specifically targeted to transgender, nonbinary and sexual minority adolescents, as well as gender-affirming care for transgender adolescents, may help reduce the burden of suicidality among this group.
Dr. Nandita Mohan
BDS, MDS( Pedodontics and Preventive Dentistry)