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Suicide

Narrative

In 2007, the latest year for which mortality data were available, suicide was the third leading cause of death among persons aged 15-24 years, 9.7 deaths per 100,000 population.1 Suicide mortality among this age group increased by over 70 percent between 1969 and 1994; however, there was a downward trend between the years of 1994 and 2007. The overall rise in suicide rates between 1969 and 2007 occurred disproportionately, with a larger increase among White youth aged 15-24 years than among Black youth.2

In 2009, data from the Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System showed that 13.8 percent of all high school students had considered attempting suicide during the 12 months prior to the survey. Female students in the 9th grade were the most likely to consider suicide (20.3 percent) while 9th- and 10th-grade males were the least likely (10.0 percent). Female students were significantly more likely to consider suicide as compared to males within each grade level; 13.6 percent of 12th grade females had considered suicide in the prior year. No significant difference by grade level was found among male students.

In 2009, 6.3 percent of high school students reported having attempted suicide in the past 12 months. Overall, females (8.1 percent) were more likely to report at least one suicide attempt than males (4.6 percent).The proportion of students who reported having attempted suicide also varied by race/ethnicity. Non-Hispanic Asian and White students were least likely to report attempting suicide (4.0 percent and 5.0 percent, respectively) while non-Hispanic Native Hawaiian/Other Pacific Islander students and non-Hispanic students of more than one race were the most likely to report at least one attempt in the past year (11.9 percent and 12.4 percent, respectively). Female students were significantly more likely to report attempted suicide among non-Hispanic Black, White, and Hispanic students; no sex differences were observed for other racial/ethnic groups.

1 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Injury Prevention and Control. Accessed March 2011.
2 Singh GK. Youth Mortality in the United States, 1935-2007; Over Seven Decades of Progress and Disparities. A 75th Anniversary Publication. Health Resources and Services Administration, Maternal and Child Health Bureau. Rockville, Maryland: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; 2010.

Graphs

This image is described in the Data section.

high school students who considered suicide graph

This image is described in the Data section.

high school students who attempted suicide graph

Data

High School Students Who Considered Attempting Suicide in the Past 12 Months, by Grade Level and Sex, 2009
Grade Percent of Students
Total Male Female
Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). 1991-2009 High School Youth Risk Behavior Survey Data. Accessed July 2011.
Total 13.8 10.5 17.4
9th Grade 14.8 10.0 20.3
10th Grade 13.4 10.0 17.2
11th Grade 14.5 11.4 17.8
12th Grade 12.1 10.5 13.6

High School Students Who Attempted Suicide in the Past 12 Months, by Race/Ethnicity and Sex*, 2009

Percent of students:

  • Total: 6.3
  • Non-Hispanic White: 5.0
  • Non-Hispanic Black: 7.9
  • Hispanic: 8.1
  • Non-Hispanic Asian: 4.0
  • Non-Hispanic American Indian/Alaska Native: 10.0
  • Non-Hispanic Native Hawaiian/ Pacific Islander: 11.9
  • Non-Hispanic Multiple Races: 12.4

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). 1991-2009 High School Youth Risk Behavior Survey Data. Accessed July 2011.  


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