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Risk and protective factors for self-harm in a population-based sample of transgender youth

Family Support & Rejection Research
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Authors: Taliaferro L.A., McMorris B.J., Rider G.N., Eisenberg M.E.

Date of publication: 2019

Journal: Archives of Suicide Research: Official Journal of the International Academy for Suicide Research

Summary: This US study used information from 1,635 gender diverse students (Grades 9 and 11). It sought to understand the factors that impact upon non-suicidal self-injury (NSSI) (i.e. self-harming acts) and suicide attempts (SA) by gender diverse young people. Students were divided into 3 groups (no self-harm, non-suicidal self-injury (NSSI) only, and NSSI and suicide attempt (NSSI + SA)). The researchers ran analyses that tested the associations between risk factors, protective factors, and health-risk behaviours to self-harm. Over half (51.6%) of gender diverse young people in the study reported past-year self-harm behaviour.

Factors that consistently distinguished young people who reported self-harm from those who reported no self-harm included reports of a mental health problem, depression, running away from home, and substance use. Factors that distinguished the NSSI + SA group from the NSSI only group were reports of a mental health problem, physical or sexual abuse, relationship violence, bullying victimization, less parent connectedness (i.e. how much a child feels they can talk to their parent/s about their problems, how much a child feels their parent/s care about them), lower grades, lower levels of perceived school safety, and running away from home. The two strongest factors protecting against the likelihood that gender diverse young people would engage in NSSI and also attempt suicide were parent connectedness and school safety. This study showed that being connected to parents reduced the risk of a suicide attempt in gender diverse young people.

You can read the full study here