Study finds link between discrimination and suicide attempts among transgender people

January 29, 2014

(Medical Xpress)—An analysis conducted by UCLA's Jody Herman and collaborators at the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention has found that transgender people who experienced rejection by family and friends, discrimination, victimization, or violence have a higher risk for attempting suicide.

Examining data from the National Transgender Discrimination Survey, the researchers found that 78 percent of respondents who suffered physical or at school reported suicide attempts, as did 65 percent of respondents who experienced violence at work. 

The study was performed by Herman, manager of transgender research and the Peter J. Cooper Public Policy Fellow at the UCLA School of Law's Williams Institute, and the AFSP's Ann Haas and Philip Rodgers.

"This study outlines the potential links between minority stressors and suicidal behavior among transgender and gender non-conforming individuals," Herman said. "More research is needed, but this is a critical first step in efforts to address the negative mental health impacts of anti-transgender discrimination."

Among the other findings:

  • Suicide attempts among trans men (46 percent) and trans women (42 percent) were slightly higher than the full sample (41 percent). Cross-dressers assigned male at birth have the lowest reported prevalence of suicide attempts among gender identity groups (21 percent).
  • Respondents who are HIV-positive (51 percent) and respondents with disabilities (55 to 65 percent) also have elevated prevalence of suicide attempts. 
  • Respondents who experienced or violence by law enforcement had an elevated prevalence of .

Explore further: Gay-straight alliances in schools reduce suicide risk for all students

More information: The full report is available here: williamsinstitute.law.ucla.edu/wp-content/uploads/AFSP-Williams-Suicide-Report-Final.pdf

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