One long-ranging study estimated a suicide rate for gender dysphoric people of 0.6%.

One long-ranging study estimated a suicide rate for gender dysphoric people of 0.6%. Expand
One long-ranging study estimated a suicide rate for gender dysphoric people of 0.6%.

Every suicide is a tragedy, and one suicide is a suicide too many. With such a serious issue, accuracy is critical.

A Swedish government-commissioned study [1] found that 39 of 6334 gender dysphoric individuals — 0.6% — died by suicide.

The UK’s largest gender clinic, the Gender Identity Development Service, states that [2]

Suicide is extremely rare.

Similarly, the Chair of the Child and Adolescent Committee for the World Professional Association for Transgender Health (WPATH), Dr Laura Edwards-Leeper, remarks [3]:

As far as I know there are no studies that say that if we don’t start these kids immediately on hormones when they say they want them that they are going to commit suicide. So that is misguided…in terms of needing to intervene medically to prevent suicide and doing it quickly, I know of no studies that have shown that.

This reinforces the point that talking about suicide is not the same as dying by suicide. While there is evidence [4] that suicidal ideation is higher among gender-dysphoric youth than in the general population, an increase in suicidal ideation rates is not proof of an equal increase in suicide rates themselves.

However, the way suicidality is reported can affect numbers of suicides. A significant body of academic research from across the world, known as the Werther Effect, has found links between certain types of reporting of suicides and increased suicide rates [5].

REFERENCES

[1] Swedish National Board of Health and Welfare (2020). Utvecklingen av diagnosen könsdysfori: Förekomst, samtidiga psykiatriska diagnoser och dödlighet i suicid. Socialstyrelsen. [Link]

[2] Gender Identity Development Service (2021). Evidence base. [Link]

[3] Daum, Meghan (2021). “We Feel Like We’re In The Wild West:” Parents of Gender-Questioning Kids Ask Their Own Questions. The Unspeakable Podcast, October 4, 2021. [Link]

[4] Aitken, M., Vanderlaan, D., Wasserman, L., Stojanovski, S. & Zucker, K. (2016). Self-Harm and Suicidality in Children Referred for Gender Dysphoria. Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry 55. [Link]

[5] Acosta, F. J., Rodríguez, C. J., Cejas, M. R., Ramallo-Fariña, Y. & Fernandez-Garcimartin, H. (2020) Suicide Coverage in the Digital Press Media: Adherence to World Health Organization Guidelines and Effectiveness of Different Interventions Aimed at Media Professionals. Health Communication 35 (13). [Link]