Trends in the Well-Being of America's Children and Youth, 2000. HC 2.7 Suicidal Teens: Youth Who Have Thought Seriously About or Attempted Suicide

01/01/2000

Suicide is a major cause of death among youth (see Section HC 1.5). Attempted suicide has been related to mental health problems including depression and adjustment or stress reactions, as well as to substance abuse.35

In 1999, 19 percent of youth in grades 9 through 12 report having seriously considered suicide during the previous 12 months (see Table HC 2.7.A). During the same time period, 8 percent report having actually attempted suicide during the previous year (see Table HC 2.8.B). These rates are considerably higher than the proportion of youth who actually commit suicide (see Section HC 1.5).

Differences by Race and Hispanic Origin.36 In 1999, black youth report the lowest rates of considering suicide at 15 percent. Eighteen percent of whites report having seriously considered suicide in the previous year. Hispanic youth report the highest rates of considering suicide, at 20 percent. (See Table HC 2.7.A.) Rates of reported attempted suicide range from 7 percent for whites and blacks to 13 percent for Hispanics (see Table HC 2.7.B).

Differences by Gender. In 1999, female youth were more likely than male youth to report having thought seriously about suicide (25 percent versus 14 percent) and having attempted suicide (11 percent versus 6 percent) during the previous year (see Figure HC 2.7). However, the rate of actual suicides, particularly among teens ages 15 to 19, is considerably higher for males than for females, as discussed in Section HC 1.5.

Table HC 2.7.A Percentage of teens in the United States in grades 9 through 12 who report having seriously considered suicide in the previous 12 months, by gender, grade, and race and Hispanic origin:a Selected years, 1990-1999

  1990 1991 1993 1995 1997 1999
Total 27 29 24 24 21 19
Male 21 21 19 18 15 14
Female 34 37 30 30 27 25
Grade
Ninth 30 29 24 26 22 18
Tenth 26 29 25 25 22 22
Eleventh 29 32 25 26 21 18
Twelfth 23 26 23 20 18 18
Race and Hispanic origina
White 28 30 24 25 20 18
Black 20 22 20 20 16 15
Hispanic 30 27 26 25 23 20

a Estimates for whites and blacks exclude Hispanics of those races. Persons of Hispanic origin may be of any race.

Sources: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1990-1991 Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System, Table 1, p. 9; table 1, p. 66; Kann, et al., 1995: Table 10, p. 32; Kann, et al., 1996: Table 10, p. 41; Kann, et al., 1998, Table 10, p. 47.


Table HC 2.7.B Percentage of teens in the United States in grades 9 through 12 who report having attempted suicide in the previous 12 months, by gender, grade, and race and Hispanic origin:a Selected years, 1990-1999

  1990 1991 1993 1995 1997 1999
Total 8 7 9 9 8 8
Male 6 4 5 6 5 6
Female 10 11 13 12 12 11
Grade
Ninth 9 9 10 11 11 10
Tenth 9 8 9 10 9 11
Eleventh 8 6 8 9 8 6
Twelfth 7 6 7 6 5 6
Race and Hispanic origina
White 8 7 8 8 6 7
Black 7 7 8 10 7 7
Hispanic 12 8 14 13 11 13

Estimates for whites and blacks exclude Hispanics of those races. Persons of Hispanic origin may be of any race.

Sources: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1990-1991 Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System, Table 1, p. 9; Table 1, p. 66; Kann, 1995, Table 10, p. 32; Kann, 1996, Table 10, p. 41; Kann, L., 1998, Table 10, p. 47.


Figure HC 2.7 Percentage of teens in the United States in grades 9 through 12 who report having seriously considered suicide or attempted suicide in the previous 12 months, by gender: 1999

Figure HC 2.7 Percentage of teens in the United States in grades 9 through 12 who report having seriously considered suicide or attempted suicide in the previous 12 months, by gender: 1999

Sources: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Kann, 1998: Table 10, p. 47.


35 Alcohol, Drug Abuse, and Mental Health Administration. 1989. Report of the Secretary’s Task Force on Youth Suicide. Publication No. (ADM)899-1621. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 1989. Cited in Healthy People 2000: National Health Promotion and Disease Prevention Objectives, Conference Edition. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

36 Estimates for white and black youth exclude Hispanics of those races.

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