Suicide and self-harm are not easy topics to talk about. Their personal and can be difficult to understand if you have never dealt with it yourself. It can be even more difficult to deal with when you are a young.
One group in particular that has a crisis-level issue with suicide and self-harm is the young transgender community.
A 2017 report found that almost 65 per cent of transgender youth in Alberta between the ages of 19 and 25 have considered suicide at some point in their lives.
A nation-wide survey of transgender youth found about two-thirds of the youth reported engaging in non-suicidal self-injury in the past year.
These statistics show Canada is failing these young people.
Experts suggest that people who want to end their life ‘feel so much pain that they see no other option’ and in desperation ‘see death as a way to escape their overwhelming pain.’
Self-harm doesn’t necessarily mean a person wants to end their life, but it can lead to suicide. People who do this usually do it to communicate emotional pain, fell a sense of control or punish themselves.
This is what happened to Jordyn Dyck, a transgender 14 teen living in Saskatchewan who was brutally bullied at school.
“I was treated differently because I was born a female and wanted to be a different person than I was,” Jordyn explained in an interview with CBC News Saskatchewan. “It made me feel like I shouldn’t be the way I am.”
Jordyn wanted to die and went on to self-harm and attempt suicide.
“I felt like I couldn’t support myself when all of these other people didn’t support me,” stated Jordyn.
Now Jordyn has switched schools and is going through a lot of counseling. Things are looking up.
Studies have shown with the right support, suicide and self-harm for transgender youth can be prevented.
A study in the journal of BMC Public Health, found a connection between the risk of suicide amongst transgender people and factors such as parental support, transphobia and ease of access to a medical transition.
Alberta has made some steps in the right direction.
As of February, the Gender Health Program at the University of Alberta has opened, the first clinic in the Prairie Provinces.
Transgender youth have a place to go to start their journey.
Previously a clinic based out of the Alberta Children’s Hospital was the only specialized clinic called the Metta Clinic. It was only open one half day a month, with a waitlist of up to three years.
As more research is showing that transgender youth and their family in Canada need more support, it is time for organizations and the government to pay attention and take action.