From 1991 to 2017, the rate of reported suicide attempts by African-American children and teens rose, especially among black boys, according to a study published Monday in the medical journal Pediatrics and reported by CNN. The rate of suicide attempts by teens in other racial and ethnic groups fell over the same period.
Researchers based the report on survey data from nearly 200,000 high school students from 1991 to 2017 from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Youth Risk Behavior Survey. Among high school students of all demographics, one out of every five said they were thinking about suicide and one out of ten said they had made a plan to carry it out. That’s despite the “increased attention given to the creation of campaigns to reduce youth suicide in the United States over the last decade,” the study found.
The authors found an increased risk in reported suicide attempts among African-American teens between 1991 and 2017, and boys saw an increase in injuries related to those attempts. That might mean that black teens were using more lethal means when attempting suicide, the study said.
The study found that the suicide rate among black boys aged 5 to 12 was twice that of white boys.
Even as the rate among black youth rose, the rate among Native Americans remains highest: in 2017, it was 26.22 per 100,000 teens.
“Over time and particularly with black boys, we have seen this troubling trend in a couple other studies. The fact that we are seeing this, especially with younger ages, is concerning,” Amy Green, director of research for The Trevor Project, told CNN. Green is not affiliated with the study. “Because so much of this is newer, there isn’t a lot of data about why, but some of the factors are stressors like discrimination and the experience people have with discrimination and microaggressions.”
Green added that there is also a lack of access to mental health services for youth of color.
“Discrimination [and] racism is a problem and it’s compounded by this lack of access to care,” she said.
Anyone considering suicide or who knows someone in danger of suicide can call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255. Additional information is available at https://www.uwhealth.org/mental-health/suicide-prevention-and-resources/50837.