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Trans, gender diverse youth 5.35 times more likely to screen positive for suicide risk

Compared to cisgender youth, transgender and gender diverse youth were 5.35 times more likely to screen positive for suicide risk.  

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Nearly 80% of emergency department encounters involving transgender or gender diverse youth ages 10 and older screened positive for suicide risk while seeking treatment at a Chicago emergency department over a 3.5-year period.

This was stressed by the abstract, “Suicidal Ideation in Transgender and Gender Diverse Youth in the Emergency Department”, which examined data provided after universal suicide screening was implemented in the Emergency Department for all youth 10 and older who presented at Ann and Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago between September 2019-August 2022.

The researchers found that in 24% of 12,112 ED encounters, patients screened positive for suicide risk. Using the electronic medical record, the author identified that of 565 encounters by transgender and gender diverse youth, positive suicide risk was identified in 78% of encounters, with 10% of encounters by transgender and gender diverse youth endorsing active suicidal ideation at the time of ED presentation.   

“Unfortunately, these findings did not surprise me as I routinely see transgender and gender diverse youth struggling with their mental health in my practice as a clinical psychologist,” said abstract author Amanda Burnside, PhD.  “Common contributing factors include bullying and discrimination, and it is imperative that we continue to support these youth.” 

Compared to cisgender youth, transgender and gender diverse youth were 5.35 times more likely to screen positive for suicide risk.  

“We should work to ensure that all youth are routinely screened for suicide risk across every health care setting,” Burnside said. “We need to develop robust systems to connect youth who screen positive with mental health services.” 

More than 77% of emergency department encounters by transgender and gender diverse youth were for a chief complaint centered on mental health, according to the research. As such, “caregivers and other supportive adults should routinely check in with transgender and gender diverse youth about their mental health.  Any concerns can be brought to the attention of the youth’s pediatrician.” 

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