Trends in the Well-Being of America's Children and Youth, 1997. HC 1.2.c Youth suicides

04/01/1997

Suicide, like homicide, has come to play a proportionately larger role in teen deaths over the past several decades. Between 1970 and 1990, the suicide death rate for youth ages 15 through 19 nearly doubled, from 5.9 to 11.1 per 100 thousand (see Figure HC 1.2.C). Since 1990, the overall suicide death rate has stabilized at approximately 11 deaths per 100 thousand youth ages 15 through 19.

Differences by Gender. Male teens are more likely than females to commit suicide (see Table HC 1.2.C). The suicide rate for white males ages 15 through 19 was 18.7 per 100 thousand in 1994, more than five times the rate of 3.5 per 100 thousand for white females. The suicide rate for black males ages 15 through 19 is 16.6 deaths per 100 thousand, compared to 2.4 per 100 thousand for black females in this age group.

Differences by Race. White male youth ages 15 through 19 have long had a higher suicide rate than their black male peers (see Table HC 1.2.C). In 1970, white males ages 15 through 19 were twice as likely as black males to die from suicide (9.4 versus 4.7 per 100 thousand). However, the gap between white and black male suicide rates has narrowed in recent years, with suicide rates of 18.7 and 16.6 per 100 thousand in 1994 for white and black males, respectively. Among females ages 15 through 19, white females and black females were equally likely to commit suicide in 1970 with rates of 2.9 per 100 thousand. By 1975, white female suicide rates were twice that of their black peers ages 15 through 19. This trend held in all subsequent years in which data could be calculated for black females until 1994, when the suicide rate for ages 15 through 19 was 2.4 per 100 thousand among black females and 3.5 per 100 thousand among white females.

Suicide Rates for Younger Youth. While considerably lower, suicide rates for youth ages 10 through 14 have followed trends similar to those among older youth, with males having higher rates of suicide than females, and whites having higher suicide rates than blacks (see Table HC 1.2.C). In this age group, suicide is infrequent for both sexes and races, making gender or racial differences small as well.
 

Figure HC 1.2.C 
Youth Suicides: Selected Years 1970-1994 (rate per 100,000) 

HC1_2C.GIF

Source: National Center for Health Statistics, unpublished work tables prepared by the Mortality Statistics Branch, Division of Vital Statistics, 1995 and 1996.
 
 

Table HC 1.2.C
Youth Suicides: Selected Years 1970-1994 (rate per 100,000)

 
   
1970
1975
1980
1985
1990
1991
1992
1993
1994
   
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
All Youth
  Ages 10-14
0.6
0.8
1.2
1.6
1.5
1.5
1.7
1.7
1.7
  Ages 15-19
5.9
7.5
8.5
9.9
11.1
11
10.8
10.9
11.1
White males
 
Ages 10-14
1.1
1.4
1.4
2.5
2.3
2.4
2.6
2.4
2.5
 
Ages 15-19
9.4
12.9
15
17.1
19.3
19.1
18.4
18.5
18.7
White females
 
Ages 10-14
0.3
0.4
0.3
0.9
0.9
0.8
1.1
1
1
 
Ages 15-19
2.9
3.1
3.3
4.1
4
4.2
3.7
4.2
3.5
Black males
 
Ages 10-14
0.3
0.2
0.5
*
1.6
2
2
2.3
2.1
 
Ages 15-19
4.7
6.1
5.6
8.2
11.5
12.2
14.8
14.4
16.6
Black females
 
Ages 10-14
0.4
0.3
0.1
*
*
*
*
*
*
 
Ages 15-19
2.9
1.5
1.6
1.5
1.9
*
1.9
*
2.4
 
* = Not calculated because of unreliability due to infrequency of the event. 

Source: National Center for Health Statistics, unpublished work tables prepared by the Mortality Statistics Branch, Division of Vital Statistics, 1995 and 1996.

 

 

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