According to a new report, attempted suicide is on the rise among a very specific demographic: black teenagers.
From 1991 to 2017, the rate of reported suicide attempts by African-American teens rose, especially the rate among black boys, according to a study published Monday in the medical journal Pediatrics. The rate for black youths grew even as the rate of suicide attempts by teens in other racial and ethnic groups fell.
These findings were culled from data collected from nearly 199,000 high school students by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Youth Risk Behavior Survey.
Additional findings include the following:
- Suicide is the second-leading cause of death for teens from all demographics, second only to accidents, and the third-leading cause of death among black youth between the ages of 15 to 19 in 2017.
- In 2017, 2,200 teenagers between the ages of 15 to 19 completed suicide.
- Among high school students, 1 in 5 admitted to experiencing suicidal ideations and 1 in 10 admitted to devising a plan to carry it out despite intensified efforts to reduce youth suicide throughout the country.
- While reported suicide attempts among black teens increased between 1991 and 2017, boys were more apt to injuries related to their attempts—inferring that they utilized more lethal means.
“It is urgent that we get to the bottom of why the rate of suicide attempts among Black female adolescents is accelerating,” Michael A. Lindsey, lead researcher and executive director of the McSilver Institute and the Constance and Martin Silver Professor of Poverty Studies at NYU Silver School of Social Work, said in a statement provided to The Root. “We also need to understand why Black males are increasingly injured in suicide attempts.”
In seeking to “investigate racial and ethnic and sex differences in suicidal ideation and behavior over time in a nationally representative sample of high school students”, the study serves to understand if “disparities are present in suicidal ideation and behavior” and how prevention efforts could be better developed and implemented. And with a 73 percent increase in reported suicide attempts among black teens, it’s clear there is work to be done.
“Further research must be done into why traditional precursors to suicide attempts, such as thinking about it or making plans, are decreasing while actual attempts are going up,” Lindsey said in a statement. “It’s important that we identify the signs before young people attempt to end their lives.”
If you are thinking about harming yourself, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or the Suicide Crisis Line at 1-800-784-2433; help is available 24 hours a day.