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Although the suicide rate among youth significantly decreased in the mid-1990s, suicide deaths remain high in the 15 to 24 age group with 3,971 suicides in 2001 and over 132,000 suicide attempts in 2002, making it the third leading cause of death for those aged 15 to 24 in the United States .
In the United Kingdom, the suicide rate for males between 15 and 24 has risen consistently since 1989, while that for females in the same age group has remained largely static. However, given the overall decline in the suicide rate in the UK, the rise in suicide amongst the 15-24 male population has been a considerable cause for concern . More preventive measures have been taken in the last ten years, including increased understanding of the risk factors and causes and spreading information to schools and parents.
In the U.S., male adolescent(s) commit suicide at a rate five times greater than that of female adolescents, although suicide attempts by females are three times as frequent as those by males. A possible reason for this is the method of attempted suicide for males is typically that of firearm use, with a 78-90% chance of fatality. Females are more likely to try a different method, such as ingesting poison . Females have more parasuicides (cries for help).
Suicide rates vary for different ethnicities due to cultural differences. In 1998, white Americans accounted for 84% of all youth suicides, 61% male, 23% female. However, the suicide rate for Native Americans was 19.3 per 100,000, much higher than the overall rate (8.5 per 100,000). The suicide rate for African-Americans has increased more than two-fold since 1981. A national survey of high school students conducted in 1999 reported that Hispanic students are twice as likely to attempt suicide as white students .
A controversial U.S. government study, titled Report of the Secretary's Task Force on Youth Suicide, found that homosexual youth are two to three times more likely to attempt suicide than other young people. Several researchers suggest that bisexual and youth uncertain of their sexual orientation may be at higher risk for suicidal behavior than self-proclaimed homosexual teenagers. Many homosexual teenagers who commit suicide may also suffer from mental illnesses or substance abuse disorders, making the connection more complicated. The American standard of institutionalized and internalized homophobia[How to reference and link to summary or text] also leads LGBT youth to think that their parents will throw them out and perhaps abuse them for being homosexual. It is impossible to know the suicide rate of homosexual youth because homosexuality is often hidden, particularly in this age group. Further research is currently being done to explain the prevalence of suicide among homosexual youths .
In 2004, 1,985 adolescents under the age of 20 committed suicide, an increase of 18% from the previous year.
References & Bibliography
- Alcohol, Drug Abuse, and Mental Health Administration. (1989). Report of the Secretary's Task Force on Youth Suicide: Vols. 1-4 (DHHS Publication No. ADM 89-1624). Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office.
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