September is Suicide Awareness and Prevention Month
The largest transgender survey to date, published in 2011 under the name Injustice at Every Turn, finally put a number to a reality many in the trans* community already knew too well: 41% of trans individuals have at some time attempted suicide.
Obviously, many factors can lead to suicide attempts and completions. Statistics show clearly that two of those factors are domestic violence and sexual assault: survivors of both have higher rates of suicidal thoughts and actions. We also know that facing pervasive social prejudice and stigma can lead to suicide or self-harm, and that is certainly the case for not just trans people, but everyone under the LGBT umbrella.
Unfortunately, there is no national trans or LGBT suicide prevention hotline for adults, and many mainstream suicide prevention hotlines have not trained their personnel in LGBT cultural competency. Indeed, last year FORGE received a report of a hotline worker who hung up on a distraught caller as soon as the caller said she was transgender. Clearly, this is an area where further collaboration and training is much needed.
In the meantime, the Trevor Project’s 24-hour national hotline (866-488-7386) is specifically designed to help LGBT youth who are feeling suicidal or despondent. The Trevor Project website (http://www.thetrevorproject.org/) also offers texting and online chat options for those who prefer those communication methods. Although they do not advertise this, Trevor Project personnel have assured FORGE that suicidal LGBTQ adults will not be turned away.
Fenway Health developed two brochures on trans people and suicide. The one geared towards trans community members is “Transgender Suicide: Myths, Reality, and Help” and can be found online at http://www.fenwayhealth.org/site/DocServer/Purple.pdf?docID=6602
A parallel brochure intended for providers working with the trans community is “Preventing Transgender Suicide: An Introduction for Providers” which is available at http://www.fenwayhealth.org/site/DocServer/Blue.pdf?docID=6601
Both of these brochures lists Samaritans as a hotline resource: 877-870-HOPE (4673). Staff have been trained and are available for trans, gender non-conforming and others who are feeling depressed or suicidal.