Suicidality, self-harm, and their correlates among transgender and cisgender people living in Aotearoa/New Zealand or Australia

Gareth J. Treharne, Damien W. Riggs, Sonja J. Ellis, Jayde A.M. Flett, Clare Bartholomaeus

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Transgender people experience high rates of suicidality and self-harm. Past research has established a range of correlates of suicidality/self-harm among transgender people but little is known about whether these correlates are similar for transgender and cisgender people. Aims: The aim of this study was to test whether a range of potential demographic and psychosocial correlates of suicidality/self-harm hold for both transgender and cisgender people living in Aotearoa/New Zealand and Australia. Methods: An online survey was completed by 700 adults living in Aotearoa/New Zealand (n = 328) or Australia (n = 372). Targeted advertising was used to recruit transgender respondents (n = 392) and cisgender respondents (n = 308). Participants completed questions about demographics, discrimination (the Everyday Discrimination Scale), distress (the Kessler-10 scale), social support (the Multi-Dimensional Scale of Perceived Social Support), resilience (the Brief Resilience Scale), suicidality (the Suicidal Ideation Attributes Scale and other questions about ideation/attempts), and self-harm (the Deliberate Self-Harm Inventory). Results: Lifetime suicidal ideation, lifetime suicide attempts, and lifetime self-harm were more common among transgender participants. Discrimination was associated with lifetime suicide attempts and lifetime self-harm, particularly for transgender participants. Distress was consistently associated with recent suicidality and self-harm for transgender participants. Younger cisgender participants were more likely to report lifetime self-harm. Recent suicidal ideation was associated with lower social support among transgender participants but with lower resilience among cisgender participants. Discussion: These findings reaffirm and expand on past research on suicidality/self-harm among transgender or cisgender people and demonstrate the relevance of tackling discrimination and distress experienced by transgender people. In addition, the findings highlight the importance of meeting additional social support needs among transgender people to help prevent suicide and self-harm.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)440-454
Number of pages15
JournalInternational Journal of Transgender Health
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 23 Jul 2020


  • Cisgender
  • discrimination
  • non-suicidal self-harm
  • psychological distress
  • resilience
  • social support
  • suicide
  • transgender


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