Between 1981 and 1998, 20,775 juveniles ages 7–17 committed suicide in the United States—nearly as many as were homicide or cancer victims. Males were the victims in 78% of these juvenile suicides. Over the same period, the suicide rate for American Indian juveniles was far higher than for any other race.
Statistics on juvenile suicides, and juvenile deaths in general, come from the National Vital Statistics System (NVSS), compiled by the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). NVSS summarizes information from death certificates filed in state vital statistics offices and includes cause-of-death information reported by attending physicians, medical examiners, or coroners. Analyses of these data for the period 1981–98 uncovered the following:
The number of youth ages 13–14 who committed suicide in the U.S. equaled the number who were murdered.
Of the juveniles who committed suicide, 66% of the males and 62% of the females were 17 years old.
Sixty-two percent of juvenile suicides were committed with a firearm, 24% resulted from suffocation (primarily hanging), and 10% were caused by poisoning.
While more than half of both boys (65%) and girls (51%) committed suicide with a firearm, girls were far more likely than boys to use poison (25% versus 6%, respectively).
Firearms were used more often in the suicides of white (63%) and black (64%) juveniles than in the suicides of American Indian (45%) and Asian (46%) juveniles.1
A white juvenile between ages 7 and 17 was nearly 1.5 times more likely to commit suicide than to be murdered, while black youth were almost 7 times more likely to be murdered than to commit suicide.
The states with the highest rates of juvenile suicide were Alaska, Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, and New Mexico, in that order.
In contrast to murder trends, the suicide rate for juveniles ages 7–17 increased from the early to the late 1980s and then remained relatively constant for most of the 1990s.
The suicide rate for white juveniles ages 7–17 averaged nearly twice the rates for black youth and Asian youth. However, the suicide rate for American Indian juveniles was almost twice the rate for white youth.
Although suicide rates were higher for white youth than for black youth, the suicide rate for black males increased 240% between 1981 and 1994, while the rate for white males increased 40%. ..more.. by Howard N. Snyder and Monica H. Swahn