Racial and Gender Disparities in Suicide Among Young Adults Aged 18–24: United States, 2009–2013

Suicide is an act of violence against oneself, resulting in death. Among teenagers and young adults aged 15–24, suicide was the second leading cause of death in 2013. Because patterns of suicide may be different for young adults aged 18–24 than for teens aged 15–17, a new NCHS Health E-Stat examines suicide rates and methods among young adults aged 18–24, by sex and race and Hispanic origin, using recent mortality data from the National Vital Statistics System.

In 2012–2013, young adult males aged 18–24 were more likely than young adult females to commit suicide. This relationship was found for the five race and ethnicity groups studied (non-Hispanic white, non-Hispanic black, Hispanic, Asian or Pacific Islander [API], and American Indian or Alaska Native [AIAN]). The suicide rate was highest in the AIAN population for both males and females (34.3 and 9.9 deaths per 100,000 population, respectively). AIAN males were more than twice as likely to commit suicide as most other gender and racial and ethnic subgroups. Suicide rates for AIAN young adults are likely to be underestimated; a previous study found that deaths overall for the AIAN population were underreported by 30%.

Based on combined data from 2009 through 2013 for non-Hispanic black and non-Hispanic white young adults who committed suicide, firearms was the most common method used, followed by suffocation. For Hispanic, API, and AIAN young adults who committed suicide, suffocation was the most common method used, followed by firearms. Poisoning and falls were more common methods among API young adults who committed suicide (12.6% and 8.1% of suicide deaths, respectively) than among other race and ethnicity groups.

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