Advanced search

Those suicide statistics

(71 Posts)
Macareaux Fri 22-Jun-18 07:18:03

Barely a single article on transgenderism, particularly where young people are concerned, fails to mention rates of suicide attempts often in the 40% to 50% range. There has been a lot discussed about how the stats were obtained and the questionable methodology of such surveys, but isn't there a bigger question here? I'm trying to tread lightly because obviously it's a hugely sensitive subject. However it would appear that the number of completed suicides is extremely low, thankfully, which begs the question of what counts as a suicide attempt when recording statistics? Surely a suicide attempt would at least end you up in hospital and there must be reliable records of this.

Given the known risks of contagion and the fact that the fear of a dead child seems to be a major influence (unsurprisingly) in parents going along with allowing a child to transition, doesn't this subject need a much wider and more rigorous investigation?

Also how trans activists and LGBT organisations can quote such rates and at the same time argue that being trans is not a mental illness is beyond me.

SporadicSpartacus Fri 22-Jun-18 07:26:23

The way I’ve usually seen it presented is that society is so transphobic, it creates a hostile environment in which to be trans, hence the suicide attempts.

It does need wider investigation, but unfortunately I don’t think those pushing for child transition are all that interested in statistics that don’t support their preconceptions. See also murder rates.

Macareaux Fri 22-Jun-18 07:50:29

And the aspect that says if you don't affirm a child as trans then there is a massive suicide risk.

Gasp0deTheW0nderD0g Fri 22-Jun-18 08:05:07

This seems to be a very complex area and it's beyond my knowledge and statistical skill to unpick it, I'd also like to know more about it, so I hope an expert will come along and go through this.

What strikes me is that such studies as do exist on children and teenagers experiencing gender issues mention that most of them have a pre-existing mental health problem such as depression/anxiety, and/or they've experienced sexual abuse, and/or they're on the autistic spectrum. Every single one of those is surely already a risk factor for self-harm and suicide, before adding in all the additional stress and pain from feeling that you don't 'belong in your own body'. So it is not surprising in the slightest that these unhappy young people are at high risk. More evidence that they need really good psychological assessment and support.

I read this article in The Atlantic by Jesse Singal. Well worth a read. Some people on Twitter and elsewhere on the internet are spitting tacks about it because the teenagers he interviewed are a mixed bunch - I think it would have gone down better in some quarters if JS had only talked to teenagers who were happy after transition, but at least one of the interviewees got over her gender dysphoria before transitioning, and he spoke to a young woman who detransitioned in her early 20s.

In both those cases and several others, it was clear that these young people were extremely unhappy in early puberty, for a variety of reasons. This is of course not unusual. It's a challenging time of life.

SwearyG Fri 22-Jun-18 08:05:15

I had a look at this a while back because I have an interest in the similarities between anorexia and ROGD. Anorexia has the highest mortality rate of any mental illness and most deaths are by suicide rather than from starvation or issues with that. The suicide attempt rate reported in published studies on this was around 12%, which iirc was lower than the non-trans control rate in the stonewall study.

The study that is quoted from is self reported and a tiny sample. It’s not worth the paper it’s written on.

Amalfimamma Fri 22-Jun-18 08:05:36

This article explains exactly where those figures came from

NotBadConsidering Fri 22-Jun-18 08:20:22

I have a big problem with this with the Australian statistics. The stat quoted here is that 80% of young people have attempted self harm and 48% attempted suicide. This is based on the Trans Pathways study:

This was an online study of 859 young people. These people were recruited from social media: self help groups, Facebook, Tumblr etc. According to the study itself, 0.6% of the US population identify as trans. If you apply this to Australia, that's around 150,000 people hmm. If you look at how many are of similar age demographic to the study population that's around 18000 trans young people. So this study is of fewer than 5% of the (very generous) estimate of the number of trans young people in Australia, and they're a group already seeing out support online. To extrapolate such extremes based on such poor quality data is poor science.

NotBadConsidering Fri 22-Jun-18 08:21:37


thebewilderness Fri 22-Jun-18 08:21:59

One of the major problems with the puberty blockers is the side effect of depression.
I have thought for some time that Lupron would prove to be as devastating for these children as thalidomide was for a previous generation.

Mossandclover Fri 22-Jun-18 08:40:44

Message deleted by MNHQ. Here's a link to our Talk Guidelines.

ResistanceIsNecessary Fri 22-Jun-18 09:28:24

I don't think the data is trustworthy at all - so I'd agree it's not possible to draw any meaningful conclusions from it as there are a number of issues at play:

- It relies on self-identification with the audience garnered online - where it's impossible to verify at all if someone is being honest or just trolling.

- It relies on honesty in terms of suicide attempts and self-harm - which is a wide spectrum ranging from ideation through to minor self inflicted injuries through to serious attempts to end one's life. Again there's no way of knowing whether people online are sharing their genuine lived experiences or not.

- As mentioned above it's a tiny number of people and therefore cannot be held up as an accurate representation of the whole group.

The area which interests me most is the rate of attempted suicide and self-harm for trans teens who are supported with their wish to transition, against the rate of attempted suicide and self-harm in that same group, once they are in their mid-late 20s. I can't help but wonder if the insistence on accepting every teen's wish to transition at face value, runs the risk of backfiring spectacularly when some come out the other side of the teenage years and realise that they aren't trans at all - and what effect that has on their MH outcomes longer-term.

Macareaux Fri 22-Jun-18 09:53:30

I suppose what I'm particularly interested in is what counts as a suicide attempt.

I know the methodology of the various surveys are rubbish but leaving that aside the figures are published very regularly to the extent that many people, especially influential people like politicians might believe that half of young trans identifying people attempt suicide and therefore must be supported in transitioning.

If 0.6% of people are identifying as trans and if there are 5m people aged between 13 and 18 then that means there are 30,000 trans teens.

If even one in ten suicide attempts were successful then there would be about 400 trans teen deaths every year.

The suicide figures are used to manipulate people and need exposing. But because it is sensitive it is hard to do.

Mogleflop Fri 22-Jun-18 09:54:36

For me it's so fucking outrageous because suicide has a contagious element.

I don't quite know how to put this into words because it's nuanced, but especially when you're autistic you can take instructions and definitions quite seriously.

If you're told that being trans means you'll feel suicidal and that you will probably try suicide at some point, I can't help wondering if in at least some people it plants the thought - either "I must be suicidal to be taken seriously" or "everyone else in my community is suicidal so I should be too".

UpstartCrow Fri 22-Jun-18 09:59:17

Can you imagine the response if any minority group made up some stats in such a shonky way and presented them as fact?

R0wantrees Fri 22-Jun-18 10:06:20

Samaritans' media guidance is well-established, accepted and followed in, it seems, all other discussions.
There can be no doubt that young people questioning their gender identity are vulnerable. I really hope that Samaritans' guidance will be followed. It hasn't been in many articles written by members and supporters of the transgender community:

There is a site here raising similar concerns to those on the thread:

"The Issue
The Guardian and the Observer, along with other media outlets, repeatedly use false statistics and sensational headlines when replaying addressing attempts of suicide by young trans-identifying individuals. This is likely causing parents of children with presenting “rapid onset gender dysphoria” (ROGD) or and those suddenly claiming a “trans” identity, to feel they have no choice but to set their child on a path of life long medicalization. It also increases the risk that more and more young people with gender dysphoria will think suicide is a viable option for themselves. But the statistics being reported are false and misleading. This is why journalistic standards in covering suicide, repeatedly violated by the Guardian and the Observer, are so important to adhere to." (continues with proposed action)

AngryAttackKittens Fri 22-Jun-18 10:08:46

The guidelines on avoiding suicide contagion are ignored in alarming ways when it comes to reporting suicide of trans people, particularly young people, who're the most vulnerable group. In particular publishing of suicide notes should NEVER happen.

Serfisafleur Fri 22-Jun-18 10:10:40

Belief in trans ideology is enough to make anyone suicidal.

Serfisafleur Fri 22-Jun-18 10:15:29

There are reports from transsexuals that developing a more gender critical, realistic view of gender/sex and society improved their mental health dramatically.

The suicide stats are always always used to manipulate people into total affirmation of the ideology. They are never used to say "maybe there's something in trans ideology that's causing depression".

R0wantrees Fri 22-Jun-18 10:26:46

Consider the vulnerable young person who is questioning their gender identity and hears repeatedly from some in their own community that there is such a high incidence of suicide ideation, attempts and tragedies.

I speak as someone directly affected by suicide and also as someone who has worked with vulnerable young people.

Wakame Fri 22-Jun-18 11:46:54

"how trans activists and LGBT organisations can quote such rates and at the same time argue that being trans is not a mental illness is beyond me."

Suicide rates are high for people with cancer too. Does that mean cancer is a mental illness?

Wakame Fri 22-Jun-18 11:52:56

I think what is happening in this thread is a bunch of people trying to suppress the guilt they feel for being horrible about a group of extremely vulnerable children.

It won't wash. Trans kids exist. They are extremely vulnerable. You are actively making life worse for them.

Own it.

nauticant Fri 22-Jun-18 11:55:27

Always with the guilt trips.

DodoPatrol Fri 22-Jun-18 11:56:32

That is a PRIME example of the guilt trip without genuine consideration of the statistics.

Serfisafleur Fri 22-Jun-18 12:11:53

Trans kids exist

No trans kids existed in the past. Ever. Childen also didn't kill themselves or report feeling suicidal in swathes over a belief about gender either.

Why now?

SardineReturns Fri 22-Jun-18 12:12:15

There are a host of issues around young people and mental health, and action needs to be taken and fast. Off the top of my head:

- Link to hormonal contraception causing massive depression issue in girls (has anything changed? Don't think so)
- Social media and various adverse effects on mental health

These issues affect girls more than boys and girls are the fastest growing suicide group + fastest growing trans group.

This needs to be looked at across the board these are the young people in our society that are in severe difficulty.

Never forgetting that boys still comprise a larger group than girls when it comes to suicide (but not to self harm or attempts, I think? following same pattern as adults - forgive me if incorrect no time to google right now).

Mental health issues can intertwine with each other and as a society we need to get to grips with this. Article after article of handwringing but we need to do something. The contracpetion thing might be a straightforward place to start.

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, watch threads, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now »

Already registered? Log in with: