More than a week after an Army official reportedly told members of the press that Chelsea Manning had tried to take her own life, the transgender whistleblower’s legal team confirmed that claim.
In a statement issued today by Chase Strangio, Vincent Ward, and Nancy Hollander, the lead attorneys were frank about their client’s current state:
“Last week, Chelsea made a decision to end her life. Her attempt to take her own life was unsuccessful. She knows that people have questions about how she is doing and she wants everyone to know that she remains under close observation by the prison and expects to remain on this status for the next several weeks. For us, hearing Chelsea’s voice after learning that she had attempted to take her life last week was incredibly emotional. She is someone who has fought so hard for so many issues we care about and we are honored to fight for her freedom and medical care. ...
“After not connecting with Chelsea for over a week, we were relieved to speak with her this morning. Though she would have preferred to keep her private medical information private, and instead focus on her recovery, the government’s gross breach of confidentiality in disclosing her personal health information to the media has created the very real concern that they may continue their unauthorized release of information about her publicly without warning. Due to these circumstances, Chelsea Manning requested that we communicate with the media and her friends and supporters on her behalf.”
Manning, 28, is a transgender woman and former Army private found guilty of leaking thousands of pages of classified government documents to the website Wikileaks. She was convicted under the Espionage Act and sentenced to 35 years incarcerated with men at the U.S. Disciplinary Barracks at Fort Leavenworth, Kan. Manning’s attorneys filed an appeal of that conviction in May.
Unfortunately, suicide attempts in prison — particularly by transgender inmates who are housed with members of the opposite sex — are all too common. Strangio, one of Manning's legal team members and a staff attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union’s LGBT and HIV Project, previously told The Advocate that incarcerated transgender people are particularly vulnerable to abuse that can severely impact their mental health.
Ky Peterson, the black trans man at the center of The Advocate’s award-winning investigative series, made an attempt on his own life after spending more than a week in “protective custody,” also known as solitary confinement.
This story is developing. Check back for updates.
If you or someone you know are a transgender or gender-nonconforming individual needing support, you can reach the Trans Lifeline at (877) 565-8860. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at (800) 273-8255 can also be reached 24 hours a day by people of all ages and identities. LGBT young people (ages 24 and younger) struggling with thoughts of suicide can also contact the Trevor Project Lifeline at (866) 488-7386.