Empowered Youth

Black Kids Under 13 Twice As Likely to Kill Themselves Than Whites of Same Age

In the United States, suicide rates have historically been higher among white people than black people across all age groups. However, new research published in the journal JAMA Pediatrics has found that for black children aged between 5 and 12, the suicide rate is twice as high as that of white children of the same age.

The findings provide evidence of a significant age-related disparity which contradicts the long-held perception that suicide rates are uniformly higher in whites than blacks in the U.S., according to Jeff Bridge, lead author of the study and director of the Center for Suicide Prevention and Research at Nationwide Children’s Hospital. To make their findings, researchers examined data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) regarding the suicide deaths of young Americans aged 5-17 years between 2001 and 2015.

In this period, they found that suicide rates for black youths overall was about 42% lower (1.26 per 100,000) than white youths (2.16 per 100,000), reflecting the national trend among all age groups. They documented 1,661 suicides among blacks and 13,341 among whites.

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However, when this larger age group was split into 5-12 year old’s and 13-17 year old’s, a significant difference became apparent—black Americans in the younger group were twice as likely to kill themselves. Studies such as this are important for identifying trends in suicide rates. However, they don’t explain what factors may be influencing these trends and why there are differences between racial groups. Nevertheless, Bridge speculates as to what factors can be ruled out.