DISTURBING PATTERN

The suicide rate for black American children is twice that of white children

Nuanced trend.
Nuanced trend.
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White Americans are more likely to commit suicide than black Americans. But a new study finds that the opposite is true for children.

Black children between the ages of 5 to 12 years old are roughly twice as likely to take their own life than their white counterparts, according to the paper, published in the journal JAMA Pediatrics. It adds to a 2016 study that found an increase in suicide rates in recent years among black children of elementary-school age.

These studies offer a window into researchers’ changing understanding of suicide patterns among young Americans. From 2001 to 2015, the overall suicide rate was approximately 42% lower among black youths (ages 17 and under) than among white youths. But researchers found a more nuanced pattern when they separated the data by age.

Among children ages 5 to 9 years old, the black suicide rate was 0.53 per million, while the white suicide rate was 0.19 per million. Suicide rates were also higher among black children at ages 10, 11, and 12. But the trend reversed once children hit their teenage years.

Researchers based their analysis on the web-based Injury Statistics Query and Reporting System of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Researchers did not factor in geographical or socioeconomic data.

While suicide is rare among young children, the findings call for more “targeted interventions,” according to the researchers from Ohio State University. More specifically, researchers need to better understand the impact of race and age on suicide attempts in order to develop more effective prevention efforts.