Colorado study shows support for transgender students greatly reduces suicide risk

BOULDER, Colo. -- Like so many transgender people, Morgan Seamont never fit in growing up, and the world made sure he knew it.

“I was constantly suicidal because I just didn’t fit,” said Seamont, who is in charge of the Transgender Steering Committee for Out Boulder.  “Of course you’re going to get bullied, and that was maybe a daily experience for me. I was extremely depressed as a kid.”

Fast forward 40 years, and the latest Healthy Kids Colorado Survey shows not enough has changed. For the first time, the survey, which is done every two years, asked Colorado’s high school students questions about gender.

The results were sobering.  They showed Colorado transgender high school students are two times more likely to be bullied than cisgender students. Forty percent considered suicide, compared to 14 percent of cisgender students; and 35 percent of transgender high school students attempted suicide in the past 12 months.

“We need to be doing more, and we need to be doing it now. If you looked at any other population that had these kind of numbers, there’d be outrage,” said Mardi Moore, Executive Director for Out Boulder County.

Moore said the numbers reinforce what they see through their outreach, and the very real need for support.

“Trans youth who connect with organizations like Out Boulder County, Oasis or Rainbow Alley, which youth can go to in downtown Denver, those kids have great health outcomes,” Moore said.

Studies show transgender kids who are not only allowed to transition, but are supported by their families during their transition, have lower levels of depression, reduced anxiety and overall better mental health.

The Healthy Kids Colorado Survey showed transgender students who feel safe at school are 2.3 times less likely to attempt suicide. Those who feel they have an adult to go to are 2.3 times less likely to attempt suicide and 1.4 times less likely to be bullied. It also pointed out the benefit transgender students see when they participate in extracurricular activities.

“There’s a real urgency behind being able to change something. So even if they can just take some small steps, that can make a huge difference for someone who’s depressed right now,” Seamont said.

Seamont finally found his support in the LGBT community and now tells his story to give transgender kids something else.

“If you can see people have done it before you, they have partners, they have jobs, it gives you hope,” Seamont said.

The most-recent survey was compiled in 2015; it is compiled every two years. To see the survey, click here.

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