Suicide Rate for Black Children Jumps as it Falls for Whites

Wednesday, May 20, 2015
(graphic: Steve Straehley, AllGov)

According to research published in JAMA Pediatrics, the suicide rate among black children nearly doubled from 1993 to 2012, while the rate for white children dropped by about a third.

 

The rate for black children went from 1.36 per million to 2.54, while the rate for whites went from 1.14 per million to 0.77. The age of children in the study ranged from 5 to 11.

 

Researchers offered some explanations for the noticeable jump, including “that black children are more likely to be exposed to violence and traumatic stress, and that black children are more likely to experience an early onset of puberty, which can increase the risk of depression and impulsive aggression,” The New York Times’ Sabrina Tavernise wrote. Researchers also found that black children might be more likely to be subject to “aggressive school discipline.” It wasn’t clear from the data that those characteristics accounted for the sharp increase in suicides, however.

 

The change was so dramatic, researchers weren’t sure they had crunched the numbers correctly. “I was shocked, I’ll be honest with you,” Jeffrey Bridge, an epidemiologist at the Research Institute at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, told the Times. “I looked at it and I thought, ‘Did we do the analysis correctly?’ I thought we had made a mistake.”

 

The researchers found a decrease in firearm suicides by white boys, while suicides via hanging or suffocation increased among black boys.

-Noel Brinkerhoff, Steve Straehley

 

To Learn More:

Suicide Trends Among Elementary School–Aged Children in the United States From 1993 to 2012 (by Jeffrey A. Bridge, Lindsey Asti, Lisa M. Horowitz, Joel B. Greenhouse, Cynthia A. Fontanella, Arielle H. Sheftall, Kelly J. Kelleher and John V. Campo, JAMA Pediatrics)

Rise in Suicide by Black Children Surprises Researchers (by Sabrina Tavernise, New York Times)

Dramatic Rise in Suicide Rate for Americans 40-64, but not for other Age Groups (by Steve Straehley, AllGov)

More Americans Now Die from Suicide than from Auto Accidents (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)

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