The 131st Annual Meeting (November 15-19, 2003) of APHA

The 131st Annual Meeting (November 15-19, 2003) of APHA

5039.0: Wednesday, November 19, 2003 - 9:30 AM

Abstract #70779

Race specific trends in suicide attempts among U. S. adolescents, 1991-2001

Sean Joe, MSW, PhD1, Steven C. Marcus, PhD, and Sophia Hussen, MPH3. (1) School of Social Work, University of Pennsylvania, 3701 Locust Walk, Philadelphia, PA 19104, 215-573-7133,, (2) School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, 295 John Morgan Building, 3620 Hamilton Walk, Philadelphia, PA 19104

A previous suicide attempt is the most significant determinant of whether an adolescent will complete suicide. Although suicide remains the third leading cause of death among American adolescents, since 1993, overall rates of suicide completion have fallen steadily. Yet, there is no recent research that examines if there was a corresponding decrease in non-fatal suicidal behavior. In this study, data on suicidal behavior and the rate of suicide completion among African-American and European-American male and female adolescents were compared, using data derived from the 1991 to 2001 Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS). According to our analysis, the overall trend in suicide attempts among US adolescents has remained fairly stable (8.6% in 1993 to 8.8% in 2001). However, among African-American male adolescents, there was a marked rise in the rate of suicide attempts, from 3.2% in 1991 to 7.5% in 2001 (134% increase), (OR=1.13, t=2.09, P=. 037 for yearly trend). In contrast, there were no statistically significant changes in suicide attempts among African-American females (-9.3%, OR=.96, t=-1.27, P=. 204) or among European-American adolescents of either gender (males: 77%, OR=1.05, t=1.59, P=. 113, females: 29%, OR=.98, t=-1.09, P=. 277). Further research is needed to determine whether the increase in suicidal behavior among African-American male adolescents is attributable to changes in their attitude toward suicidal behavior or willingness to report such behavior, or to increased social isolation and prevalence of mental disorder over this period of time.

Learning Objectives:

Keywords: Adolescent Health, African American

Presenting author's disclosure statement:
I do not have any significant financial interest/arrangement or affiliation with any organization/institution whose products or services are being discussed in this session.

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The 131st Annual Meeting (November 15-19, 2003) of APHA