Being supportive of a teen’s gender identity, no matter what it is, is a key component
of the care we provide. We know of the mental health stressors associated in LGBTQ+
faced by teens. Most concerning of all is the risk of suicide. An early-released
study by Toomey et al. (10.1542/peds.2017-4218) evaluated the prevalence of suicide behavior among following gender identity groups:
female, male, transgender, male-to-female transgender, female-to-male transgender,
not exclusively male or female, and questioning.
The authors surveyed more than 120,600 teens ages 11 to 19 years in a national survey
over 36 months and asked about suicide attempts (never vs ever). While 14% of teens
reported a suicide attempt, the rate was 50.8% in those who were female-to-male transgender,
41.8% in those not exclusively male or female, 29.9% in those who were male-to-female
transgender, and 27.9% who were questioning (27.9%). Even when controlling for confounders,
the role of gender identity as a unique factor associated with suicide attempt persisted.
This study should raise awareness in ourselves and in our adolescent patients regarding
the high risk of suicide ideation in those experiencing gender identity issues, so
we can hopefully prevent an attempt from ever occurring. There is a lot to learn
from the survey results contained in this study, so link to it and you and your teen
patients will be glad you did.