Black Youth Suicide: Investigation of Current Trends and Precipitating Circumstances

Arielle H. Sheftall, Fatima Vakil, Donna A. Ruch, Rhonda C. Boyd, Michael A. Lindsey, Jeffrey A. Bridge

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: Suicide among Black youth is a significant public health concern, yet research investigating the epidemiology of suicide in this population is limited. This study examines current trends and precipitating circumstances of suicide by sex and age group in Black youth 5 to 17 years of age, using 2 national databases. Method: Data from the Web-based Injury Statistics Query and Reporting System (WISQARS) and the National Violent Death Reporting System (NVDRS) were used to investigate trends and precipitating circumstances of Black youth suicide from 2003 to 2017. We hypothesized suicide rates would increase over time for both sexes and all age groups (5-11, 12-14, and 15-17 years), and precipitating circumstances would differ by sex and age group. Trend analyses were conducted using Joinpoint regression software, version (Surveillance Research Program, National Cancer Institute). Sex and age group comparisons of characteristics and precipitating circumstances were conducted using standard univariate statistical tests. Results: From 2003 to 2017, Black youth experienced a significant upward trend in suicide with the largest annual percentage change in the 15- to 17-year age group and among girls (4.9% and 6.6%, respectively). Mental health problems, relationship problems, interpersonal trauma and life stressors, and prior suicidal thoughts/behavior were the most common clinical characteristics and precipitating circumstances, with several varying by sex and age group. Conclusion: Increases in Black youth suicide calls for the prioritization of research aimed at identifying specific risk and protective factors as well as developmental mechanisms associated with Black youth suicidal behavior. To implement effective suicide prevention programming, understanding targets for intervention is necessary.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)662-675
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2022


  • Black youth suicide
  • age- and sex-specific trends

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


Dive into the research topics of 'Black Youth Suicide: Investigation of Current Trends and Precipitating Circumstances'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this