Today has become, in our burgeoning social calendar, that which is known as “RUOK Day”. Over time it has had a tendency to be watered down to concern for general mental-wellbeing.
What RUOK Day is essentially about is suicide and the taboo our society still experiences even saying it.
I remember one day, when I was an intern-psychologist, and my Clinical Supervisor and I were going over a video of one of my consultations. At one point, my Supervisor asked me to stop the video. She looked at me and said “Why didn’t you ask the question: it was clear on the video, by the reaction on your face, that you had a suspicion that self-harm was a possibility here. So why didn’t you ask the question?”
To this day I have never forgotten my answer to that confronting question.
“Because I was afraid of the answer”, I said.
Since then, I have learned to ask the question: “Are you going to be okay? Are you thinking about self-harm or suicide?”.
It’s part of my job… and because of my job I am often the only person who gets to ask that question to a client. I am no longer afraid of the answer.
According to the National LGBTI Health Alliance, of which I am a professional member, we know the following about transgender people and their lifetime prevalence of attempted suicide:
- LGBTI young people aged 16 to 27 are five times more likely to attempt suicide than the general population in Australia
- Transgender people aged 18 and over are nearly eleven times more likely to attempt suicide than the general population in Australia.
- People with an Intersex variation aged 16 and over are nearly six times more likely to attempt suicide than the general population in Australia.
If you have a transgender or gender-diverse family member, friend, or colleague then please know that they have the highest rate of suicide attempt (in their lifetime) than any other person you are likely to know. If you have a transgender or gender-diverse person in your life, and you have reasons to be concerned, then ask the question. You are most likely to save a life. Please do.