In 2017, 2,200 teens ages 15-19 committed suicide, which was the second leading cause of death in young people aged 12-18. That same year, more than 111,000 young people ages 12-18 went to a hospital emergency department after they harmed themselves. A study, “Trends of Suicidal Behaviors among High School Students in the United States: 1991-2017,” in the November 2019 Pediatrics, found increases in suicidal behaviors and thoughts among black teens, far outstripping trends among their peers. Researchers for the study, which is published online on Oct. 14, analyzed survey results of 198,540 young people from the 1991 to 2017 national Youth Risk Behavior Survey, which surveys 9th-12th grade public and private school students in all 50 states and Washington DC. They found increases in reported suicide attempts among black teenage girls and boys, and that black teenaged boys had an increase in injury associated with these attempts. Researchers also found that among all students surveyed of any race and gender, one in five adolescents are thinking about suicide (18.8%) and more than one in ten has a suicide plan (14.7%). Researchers concluded preventative interventions within the black community and screenings by health care providers could help identify young people who are vulnerable and reduce stigma related to mental illness. They suggest more research is needed to examine trends of suicidal ideation, to inform prevention efforts, and to examine the underlying reasons.
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