A new study published in the journal JAMA Pediatrics reveals that black American children have a higher suicide rate than white American children.
Research data from 2001 to 2015 shows a 42 percent overall suicide rate among black American youths ages 17 and under. While this is a lower rate than that of white American youths of the same age group, the suicide rate among black Americans in the younger 5-12 age group is higher than that of white children. Meanwhile, in the 13-17 age group, the suicide rate is lower among black teens than that of white teens.
Mental Health And Suicide Among Young Black Americans
Suicide has become the second leading cause of death for youths between the ages of 10-19 in the United States. The Center for Suicide Prevention and Research stated that nearly 1 in 6 teenagers have considered committing suicide last year.
Jeffrey Bridge, lead author of the study, states that although suicide is rare among children, these new findings are disturbing and give more reason for deeper research into suicide and racial disparities. In 2017, Bridge and his team discovered that among the children ages 5-11 and young adolescents ages 12-14 who took their lives, majority of them were male.
Bridge and his team also discovered that the victims were also suffering from a stressful environment at home or with friends. They also noted that children who had a mental health problem at the time of their death were more likely to have been diagnosed with attention deficit disorder (ADD) or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
The team elaborated that young adolescents who took their lives also struggled with relationship issues. Bridge commented that the suicide of a 10-year-old from a town not too far from Columbus led him to do more research on the matter.
Does Race Play A Factor?
Samoon Ahmad, a psychiatrist, stated that even though the study was unable to provide context for the racial differences in the suicide rates, he believes that there could be a number of reasons for the inconsistency. He said that lack of family network, social network, and cultural activities could play a role in the shocking suicide rate.
He also elaborated that social media being introduced to young children and the lack of social interaction among children which can lead to isolation, is another factor to take into consideration. Ahmad stated that children at the age of 5-12 are at their most vulnerable, and adults believe they are "too young" to experience such despair.
"No one talks about that with them. We tend to put them in silos, and don't discuss these things because we think it's too traumatic," he said. "Instead, there must be a slow and steady flow of communication," Ahmad stated.