“The transition from adolescence to adulthood is a very stressful time for all young people, especially for adolescents with gender and sexuality. Ian Colman, professor at the University of Ottawa and the Norwegian Institute of Public Health, Oslo, Norway, with coauthors.
Because of the risk of suicidal ideation and under-researched efforts among transgender and non-bisexual youth, researchers analyzed data from the Canadian National Health Survey of Children. and youth in 2019 to expand the evidence base.
The study sample consisted of 6800 adolescents aged 15-17, most of whom (99.4%) were transgender, meaning they were identified as the sex they were assigned at birth, and 0.6 % are transgender, meaning they are identified as a different gender than the one specified at Sinh.
Transgender people and suicide
The majority (78.6%) of respondents are of the opposite sex, 14.7% are attracted to multiple genders, 4.3% are uncertain about their attractiveness, 1.6% are attracted to other genders. Girls and 0.8% boys are attracted to boys.
Overall, 14% of adolescents had attempted suicide in the previous year and 6.8% had had a previous suicide attempt. Transgender youth are 5 times more likely to have suicidal thoughts and 7.6 times more likely to have suicidal thoughts than transgender youth.
Co-author Fae said: “A really disturbing finding is that more than half of transgender youth said they had seriously considered suicide in the previous 12 months. This is a crisis and it shows see the need to do more to support young transgender people.” Johnstone, chief executive officer, Wisdom2Action, is a transgender woman herself.
The researchers also found that the percentage of adolescents who reported being attractive to more than one gender was much higher than reported in previous studies.
This may be because this survey assesses attraction to different genders rather than self-reported gender identity, or it may reflect a reduction in stigma against bisexuals. Notably, this group was twice as likely to think about suicide.
Overall, 4.3% of teenagers said they were uncertain about their sexual attraction, known as “questioning”.
Lead author, Dr Mila Kingsbury, University of Ottawa, said: “Given that exploring romantic and sexual relationships is a major developmental task of adolescence, it is perhaps not surprising as many people began to question sexual attraction and orientation during this time.
The association between suicide and being in a sexual or gender minority is partly explained by the fact that such adolescents have experienced bullying or cyberbullying.
The study’s findings are similar to those from the only other nationally representative study on the topic, which reported a 5-fold increased risk of suicide among transgender youth in New Zealand.
“Suicide prevention programs that specifically target transgender, non-bisexual, and sexual minorities youth, as well as gender-affirmative care for transgender youth, can help reduce the burden of suicide in this group.
Given that these associations have been mediated in part through the experience of bullying, systemic change in the form of key prevention programs aimed at raising public awareness and promoting inclusion may be led to a reduction in stressful sexual experiences among minority and transgender youth, reducing their risk, Johnstone said.