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In 2002, 13,812 deaths were reported of adolescents aged 15-19 years. After a moderate increase in death rates for this age group in the early 1980’s, there has been a gradual decrease since that time. Unintentional injury remains the leading cause of death and accounted for approximately 52 percent of all deaths among adolescents 15-19 years of age in 2002. Homicide and suicide were the next leading causes of death, accounting for 14 and 11 percent, respectively, of all deaths within this age group.

Deaths Due to Injury

Within the classification of deaths due to injury or other external causes, motor vehicle crashes were the leading cause of mortality among 15- to 19-year-olds in 2002, and accounted for 52 percent of injury-related deaths among adolescents. Alcohol is a significant contributor to these deaths; nearly one-third of adolescent drivers killed in crashes had been drinking. Firearms were the next leading cause of injury death, accounting for 23 percent of injury-related deaths in this age group. Adolescent death rates due to motor vehicle injuries and firearms were similar in the early 1990s until 1994, when they began to diverge. The rate of adolescent firearm deaths decreased much faster and was recorded at a rate of 12.2 per 100,000 population in 2002, less than half the rate of motor vehicle injury deaths, which was 27.1 per 100,000.

Graph: Leading Causes of Death Among Adolescents[d]


Graph: Deaths Due to Injury Among Adolescents[d]