Transgender Suicide Attempt Rates Are Staggering

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Voactiv
By Luke Malone
March 5, 2015

Ash Haffner died in North Carolina last Thursday—another transgender teen lost to suicide. His mother says the 16-year-old had encountered bullying, which worsened when he began to transition publicly. “Ash had been so strong for years,” she said, using the female pronoun. “Ash started enduring the most bullying when she cut her hair short.”

Haffner’s death follows that of Leelah Alcorn, the 17-year-old transgender high schooler from Ohio, whose suicide attracted international attention last December and ignited a broader debate about early transition and conversion therapy. But perhaps most troubling about the deaths of these two young people is that they’re part of a broader trend in the U.S., which sees a disproportionate number of transgender and gender non-conforming teens and adults attempting suicide.

According to surveys, 4.6 percent of the overall U.S. population has self-reported a suicide attempt, with that number climbing to between 10 and 20 percent for lesbian, gay or bisexual respondents. By comparison, 41 percent of trans or gender non-conforming people surveyed have attempted suicide.

The most recent, comprehensive data on suicide attempts was gathered by The Williams Institute, in collaboration with the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. Its report, Suicide Attempts Among Transgender and Gender Non-Conforming Adults, analyzed responses from 6,456 self-identified transgender and gender non-conforming adults (18+) who took part in the U.S. National Transgender Discrimination Survey. The results are staggering.

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