Here We Go: Transgender Persons Face High Risk of Suicide

M.C. Lampe, 24, is a graduate student, studying Gender and Women's studies at University of Louisville. Lampe identifies as Gender Queer. (Photo: Alyssa Pointer, USA TODAY)
M.C. Lampe, 24, is a graduate student, studying Gender and Women’s studies at University of Louisville. Lampe identifies as Gender Queer. (Photo: Alyssa Pointer, USA TODAY)

M.C. Lampe couldn’t take any more bullying. Not one more homophobic taunt. Not one more classmate refusing to sit at a nearby desk or change clothes within view at gym. So the devastated 9th grader brought a knife to school and vowed: “If someone else says something, I’m done.”

Someone did say something — and Lampe went to the high school bathroom and slit both wrists.

Suicide attempts are alarmingly common among transgender individuals such as Lampe; 41% try to kill themselves at some point in their lives, compared with 4.6% of the general public. The numbers come from a study by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention and the Williams Institute, which analyzed results from the National Transgender Discrimination Survey. Researchers are preparing to launch another version of the online survey on Wednesday.

More than a dozen other surveys of transgender people worldwide since 2001 have found similarly high rates, and the problem has grown more visible since Caitlyn Jenner’s coming out raised awareness about transgender health issues overall.

“The way we treat trans people, especially trans women, is terrible,” says Lampe, now a 24-year-old graduate student at the University of Louisville who identifies as a genderqueer and transgender. “It’s not surprising they don’t feel they belong in the world.”

That’s borne out by the research, which shows those who are harassed, bullied, victimized, discriminated against or rejected by family and friends are more likely to attempt suicide. Some doctors and mental health experts say prevention begins with acceptance and kindness, especially by parents.

“The answer is love your kid as is,” says pediatrician Michelle Forcier of Rhode Island, an expert on transgender children on the faculty of Brown University’s medical school. “Your love and acceptance is the best medicine your kids can ever get.”

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SOURCE: Laura Ungar
USA Today

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