The suicide of a young person is always a tragedy, an event deeply mourned by the youth’s family and community. Sadly, the prevalence of this kind of tragedy is greater than many might think. Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for 2005 through 2013 indicate suicide has been the third or fourth leading cause of death for people ages 10 to 14, and the second or third leading cause of death for young people ages 15 to 24. Within these age groups, suicide rates can be further differentiated by race. Although suicide incidence has tended to be lower for Black youth than for other demographic groups, today suicides of African American children and young adults are on the rise. In order to understand how to reverse this worrisome new trend, a complex set of factors need to be examined.

Suicide by Race, Age, and Gender

In the total U.S. population not taking age into account, whites have the highest rate of suicide followed by American Indians and Alaskan Natives, and Asians and Pacific Islanders. Blacks and Hispanics have the lowest rates of suicide. For young people, the highest rates of suicide-related deaths occur among American Indians and Alaskan Natives. Rates of suicide for Black youth and the overall Black population tend to be lower than these other demographics – but things have changed recently.

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