Black children aged 5 to 12 years are roughly twice as likely as white children to commit suicide, according to a study funded by the National Institute of Mental Health. But that trend reverses in adolescence: From ages 13 to 17 years, the suicide rates for white children are double those of black children.
The researchers used the CDC’s web-based Injury Statistics Query and Reporting System, analyzing data from 2001-2015 separately for each age group. The data were limited, the researchers say, and did not include information on contributing factors. They add that their findings highlight the need for a greater understanding of age-related racial disparities in youth suicide.
The disturbing findings are part of an overall rise in suicide nationwide. Suicide is the tenth leading cause of death in the US, according to the latest figures from the CDC. In 2016, nearly 45,000 Americans aged ≥ 10 years died by suicide.
In 2017, the CDC released Preventing Suicide: A Technical Package of Policy, Programs, and Practices , with evidence-based strategies ( https://www.cdc.gov/media/releases/2018/p0607-suicide-prevention.html). The strategies include creating protective environments by reducing access to lethal means among at-risk individuals and intervening at “suicide hotspots” by, for example, putting barriers on tall structures. “Like most public health problems,” the guide says, “suicide is preventable.”