Risk and Protective Factors for Self-Harm in a Population-Based Sample of Transgender Youth

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20 Scopus citations


This study sought to identify factors distinguishing transgender/gender non-conforming (GNC) adolescents across three groups: no self-harm, non-suicidal self-injury (NSSI) only, and NSSI and suicide attempt (NSSI + SA). Data were from the 2016 Minnesota Student Survey. The final analytic sample included 1,635 transgender/GNC students in grades 9 and 11. Logistic regression analyses determined factors that best distinguished transgender/GNC students who reported self-harm (NSSI only or NSSI + SA) from those who reported no self-harm, and transgender/GNC adolescents who reported NSSI + SA from those who reported NSSI only. Final models were developed over 3 stages of analysis that tested associations of variables within risk factor, protective factor, and health-risk behavior domains to self-harm. Over half (51.6%) of transgender/GNC adolescents reported past-year self-harm behavior. Factors that consistently distinguished transgender/GNC youth 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 (alcohol or marijuana 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, lower grades, lower levels of perceived school safety, and running away from home. Clinicians and school personnel need to be prepared to address risk factors and enhance protective factors that may reduce the likelihood this population of vulnerable youth will engage in NSSI and/or attempt suicide.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)203-221
Number of pages19
JournalArchives of Suicide Research
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 3 2019

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Research reported in this article was supported by the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health & Human Development of the National Institutes of Health under Award Number R21HD088757. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018, Copyright © International Academy for Suicide Research.


  • adolescent
  • self-harm
  • self-injury
  • suicide
  • transgender


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