Study: Suicide Second Leading Cause of Death

Suicide rates for African-American adolescents are skyrocketing, says Ball State University researcher.

Jagdish Khubchandani, a health science professor, found that African-American adolescents (13–19 years of age) discovered that the rate of African-American male suicides increased by 60% and for AA females increased by 182% from 2001 to 2017. Over the 16-year period, there were 1,375 male suicides and 377 female suicides.

“The Changing Characteristics of African-American Adolescent Suicides, 2001–2017,” was recently published in the Journal of Community Health. Khubchandani worked with James Price, a professor at the University of Toledo, on the study.

To explore the nature of suicidal deaths and suicide attempts in African- American adolescents, researchers utilized the Youth Risk Behavior Surveys (YRBS) and the Web-Based Injury Statistics Query and Reporting System (WISQARS) database from years 2001 to 2017.

The study found:
* Suicides were the second leading cause of death for AA adolescents.
* In 2017, 68,528 African-American males and 94,760 females made suicide attempts serious enough that they had to be treated by health professionals.
* Males were most likely to use firearms (52%) or to hang/suffocate themselves (34%) to commit suicide.
* Females used hanging/suffocation (56%) or firearms (21%) to commit suicides.

The 10 states with the greatest number of AA adolescent suicides (2015–2017) were: Georgia, Texas, Florida, North Carolina, Ohio, Illinois, Michigan, Pennsylvania, New York, and Missouri.

Khubchandani said firearms in the home is the greatest risk for teens and must be the greatest focus for intervention.

“Research has shown that 75% of inner city primary grade elementary school students know where their parents keep their handguns and children as young as 2 years of age have the tensile strength to pull the trigger of handguns,” he said. “A second form of protection against suicides in adolescents is having ready access to mental health care. African-American adolescents are at higher risk than the general population to encounter serious forms of violence.

“Schools are the leading provider of mental health services for youth. Thus, there needs to be a greater emphasis on urban public schools providing adequate screening, treatment and referral services for adolescents with mental health disorders.”

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