Trends in Suicide Among Youth Aged 10 to 19 Years in the U.S., 1975-2016

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  • Donna A. Ruch, PhD
  • Arielle H. Sheftall, PhD
  • Paige Schlagbaum, BS
  • Joseph Rausch, PhD
  • John V. Campo, MD
  • Jeffrey A. Bridge, PhD

Published: May 17, 2019 in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA)

Report Intro/Brief:
“Suicide is the second leading cause of death among youth aged 10 to 19 years in the United States, with suicide rates increasing 33% between 1999 and 2014. Rates of suicide in the United States have historically been higher in male individuals than in female individuals across all age groups. However, 2 recent reports from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reveal that female youth are experiencing a greater percentage increase in suicide rates compared with male youth.

A study of youth aged 15 to 19 years showed suicide rates for female individuals more than doubled from 2007 to 2015, compared with a 31% increase for male individuals; an additional report found female youth aged 10 to 14 years experienced the largest percentage increase in suicide rates compared with other age groups, tripling from 0.5 per 100 000 in 1999 to 1.5 per 100 000 in 2014. Although informative, these reports do not address the extent to which the disproportionate increase in suicide rates among female youth is contributing to a narrowing gap between male and female youth suicide rates. Understanding disparities in youth suicide rates is crucial for developing targeted prevention strategies. This study examines these trends by investigating age-specific data by sex, race/ethnicity, method of suicide, and US regions using the most recent national mortality data available through 2016.

Findings:  This cross-sectional study of 85 051 youth suicide deaths found a significant reduction in the gap between male and female rates of suicide among youth aged 10 to 19 in the United States, with the most pronounced narrowing in younger individuals. Female suicide rates by hanging or suffocation are approaching those of male youth, and significant differences by race/ethnicity also exist.

Meaning:  A narrowing gap between male and female youth suicide rates underscores the importance of early suicide prevention efforts that take both sex and developmental level into consideration.”

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