Suicide Among African-American Kids Rises

Suicide Among African-American Kids RisesSuicide Among African-American Kids Rises

The suicide rate among young African-American boys has almost doubled since 1993, a new study says. The rate among white children dropped during the same period.

The research, published in the journal JAMA Pediatrics, followed the suicide rates of children aged five to 11, between 1993 and 2012, Reuters reported.

While the overall suicide rate did not change over the years, the rate among black boys rose from 1.78 to 3.47 per million. In contrast, suicides among white boys dropped from 1.96 to 1.31 per million.”I was shocked, I’ll be honest with you,” said Jeffrey Bridge, an epidemiologist at the Research Institute at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, who led the research.

“I looked at it and I thought, ‘Did we do the analysis correctly?’ I thought we had made a mistake,” Bridge said, quoted by The New York Times.

In fact, researchers waited for the numbers from 2012 to be released from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, to double-check their results. However, that data only supported the team’s research.

Psychologist Dr. Lauren Patton said suicide at such a young age “blows our minds as clinicians,” adding that professionals are left wondering “what’s happening that a five-year-old is engaging in self-injurious behavior.”

The study’s authors noted that this is a change from historical trends, which saw the suicide rates among black children lower than the rate among white children.

“Suicide rates in the US have historically been higher among white individuals across all age groups,” said Bridge, CNN reported.

“We were very surprised to see higher suicide rates among black children over time,” added Bridge, who is also associate professor of pediatrics at Ohio State University.

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Suicide rates among black girls followed the same trend, increasing from 0.68 to 1.23 per one million. The rate among white girls remained stable, at about 0.25 per million.

The authors did not speculate reasons for the significant jump in suicides among black boys, but said the rate may be higher for a number of reasons – including the possibility of more exposure to violence and aggression than whites, and less help for depression and suicide attempts.

Patton said the biggest risk factor for suicide is mental illness - 90% in suicides. Boys use more “lethal means.”

The study found that hanging and suffocation accounted for 78.2% of the deaths. Shooting was the second most common, occurring in 17.7% of the cases.

A total of 657 children aged five to 11 killed themselves between 1993 and 2012.