Childhood discrepancy in suicide rates among whites, blacks

  • JAMA Pediatrics

  • curated by Jim Kling
  • Clinical Essentials
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Takeaway

  • Among children aged 5-12 years, suicide risk was lower in whites in the period from 2001 to 2015, but among children aged 13-17 years, blacks had lower rates of suicide than whites.

Why this matters

  • Racial disparities in childhood suicide have not been adequately investigated; this information is key to effective suicide prevention measures.
  • The results of the study dispute the widely held belief that suicide rates are uniformly higher in white children than black children.

Study design

  • Data from the Web-based Injury Statistics Query and Reporting System were used to compare age-specific suicide rates in black vs white youths (2001-2015).
  • Funding: National Institute of Mental Health; NIH.

Key results

  • Suicide deaths were reported among black (n=1661) and white (n=13,341) youths.
  • The suicide risks were 42% lower among black youths than white youths (1.26 vs 2.16 per 100,000).
  • At 5-12 years of age, black children had a significantly higher incidence of suicide than white children (incidence rate ratio [IRR], 1.82; 95% CI, 1.59-2.07).
  • At 13-17 years of age, suicide rates were lower among black youths than white youths (IRR, 0.51; 95% CI, 0.48-0.53).

Limitations

  • Potential mechanisms responsible for age-related racial differences were unknown.

Coauthored with Chitra Ravi, MPharm

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