Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Children's Suicide Rates Reflect Racial Differences

Between 1993 and 2012, 657 children in the United States died by suicide, the 11th leading cause of death among children aged 5 to 11 years. While the overall suicide rate did not change significantly over that time (from 1.18 to 1.09 per million), there were notable differences between white and black children.

“Among white children, the suicide rate decreased significantly during the study period (incident rate ratio = 0.86), whereas for black children there was a significant increase in the suicide rate (incident rate ratio = 1.27),” wrote epidemiologist Jeffrey Bridge, Ph.D., a principal investigator at the Research Institute at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, and colleagues in JAMA Pediatrics.

Those differences were largely driven by a significant decrease in suicide rates among white boys (from 1.96 per million to 1.31 per million) and a significant increase among black boys (from 1.78 to 3.47 per million). Hanging/suffocation accounted for 78 percent of all suicides.

The authors speculated on several possible explanations of this disparity in outcomes—black youth may be exposed to more violence or traumatic stress, for instance—but could not say for certain what caused the observed difference in suicide rates.

“[F]uture steps should include ongoing surveillance to monitor these emerging trends and research to identify risk, protective, and precipitating factors associated with suicide in elementary school–aged children to frame targets for early detection and culturally informed interventions,” they concluded.

For more in Psychiatric News about children and suicide, see: "CBT for Child Anxiety May Confer Long-Term Protection From Suicidality."

--aml   (Image: pio3/


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