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Adolescent Mortality

Narrative

In 2010, there were 10,887 deaths among adolescents aged 15–19 years, representing a rate of 49.4 per 100,000.1 The rate of adolescent mortality declined by 7.7 percent from the previous year and 26.4 percent from 2000. This decline may be largely attributable to decreases in unintentional injury2 which remains the leading cause of adolescent death, followed by homicide, suicide, cancer, and heart disease.

The mortality rate of adolescent males aged 15–19 was more than twice that of females in 2010 (69.6 versus 28.1 per 100,000, respectively). This disparity is largely due to higher rates of unintentional injury, homicide, and suicide death among male adolescents. For example, homicide death rates were more than five times higher among males than females (14.0 versus 2.3 per 100,000). Homicide and suicide, when combined, account for almost as many deaths as unintentional injuries among male adolescents.

Racial and ethnic disparities also exist, with non-Hispanic American Indian/Alaska Native adolescents experiencing the highest rate of mortality among both males and females (138.6 and 57.6 per 100,000, respectively). Non-Hispanic Black males had the second highest rate of adolescent mortality (108.0 per 100,000) while non-Hispanic Asian/Pacific Islander females had the lowest rate (16.0 per 100,000). Unintentional injury was the leading cause of death among male and female adolescents of all racial/ethnic groups, except non-Hispanic Black males, for whom homicide was the leading cause of death (data not shown in graph images or in data tables on this site).

The primary cause of unintentional injury death was motor vehicle crashes (63.8 percent), followed by poisoning (16.4 percent) which is the only unintentional injury mechanism to increase over the past decade.1,2 Poisoning includes prescription drug overdoses. Homicide deaths to adolescents were predominantly attributable to firearms (84.8 percent) while both firearms and suffocation were leading mechanisms of suicide death (40.3 and 45.3 percent, respectively; data not shown in graph images or in data tables on this site).1

1 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Injury Prevention and Control. Web-based Injury Statistics Query and Reporting System (WISQARS). Accessed: October 23, 2012.

2 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Vital signs: Unintentional injury deaths among persons aged 0-19 years - United States, 2000-2009. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. 2012 Apr 20;61:270-6

Graphs

This image is described in the Data section.

leading causes of death among adolescents graph

This image is described in the Data section.

deaths due to injury among adolescents graph

Data

Mortality Rates Among Adolescents Aged 15–19 Years, by Selected Leading Cause and Sex, 2010
Cause of Death Rate per 100,000 (Rank)
Male Female
Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Injury Prevention and Control. Web-based Injury Statistics Query and Reporting System (WISQARS). Accessed: October 23, 2012.
All Causes 69.6 28.1
Unintentional Injury 28.3 12.4
Homicide 14.0 2.3
Suicide 11.7 3.1
Cancer 3.2 2.2
Heart Disease 2.1 0.9
Mortality Rates Among Adolescents Aged 15–19 Years, by Race/Ethnicity* and Sex, 2010
Race/Ethnicity Rate per 100,000
Male Female
*Separate estimates for Asians and Native Hawaiians and Other Pacific Islanders were not available
Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Health Statistics. Compressed Mortality File 1999-2010. CDC WONDER Online Database, compiled from Compressed Mortality File 1999-2010 Series 20 No. 20, 2012. Accessed on November 15, 2012.
Non-Hispanic White 63.9 30.1
Non-Hispanic Black 108.0 31.9
Hispanic 61.2 20.4
Non-Hispanic American Indian/Alaska Native 138.6 57.6
Non-Hispanic Asian/Pacific Islander* 27.9 16.0