In previous years, Black children and teens have had lower rates of suicide when juxtaposed to their counterparts, but new studies reveal otherwise. The American Academy of Pediatrics conducted a study to analyze the rate of suicide among teens.
The data used in the study included the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s Youth Risk Behavior Survey.
The CDC surveyed 198,540 high school students from 1991-2017. In spite of the added attention to suicide prevention campaigns, the study uncovered one in five high school students of all demographics said they were thinking about suicide, and 1 in 10 said they had planned to carry out the attempt. In 2017, there were 2,200 teen deaths by suicide, ranging from 15 to 19.
According the October 2019 edition of the Pediatric Journal, across all sex, race and ethnic groups there were significant decreases in suicide attempts, except for African-Americans. Researchers found that reported suicide attempts by African-American teens increased, specifically among Black adolescent boys.
The trend of injuries related to suicide attempts has increased for African-American boys as well. The study suggests that boys may be using more lethal methods for attempting suicide. Additionally, Black boys 5 to 12 have a suicide rate two times higher than their white counterparts.
Dr. Benjamin Shain, a child and adolescent psychiatrist at NorthShore University, wrote an editorial accompanied with the research. Shain noted that historically, Black teens have maintained lower suicide rates despite high rates of poverty, racial discrimination and less access to health care. Speculation around the cause is due to societal shifts. The study concludes that there will need to be more extensive research into causes, and risk factors.