The black children suicide rate is nearly twice that of white children, reversing historical trends where whites led the category in all age groups, according to a new study. The reasons, though, remain unknown.
The Washington Post reported the new study published on Monday in JAMA Pediatrics backed up previous work by researchers at Nationwide Children's Hospital in Ohio that found that the suicide rate for black children ages 5 to 12 topped that of white children.
The study discovered that the suicide rate among black children aged 5 to 12 years was 1.82 per 100,000, which was 95 percent higher than white children the same age, according to the American Journal of Managed Care Market Network.
The Post noted, though, that while black children are committing suicide more than whites, whites commit more suicides as they get older. For adolescents, ages 13 to 17, according to the new study, white teens continue to have a 50 percent higher rate of suicide than black teens.
The Post said researchers based their findings on the web-based Injury Statistics Query and Reporting System for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That system, though, does not capture geographical or socioeconomic data.
"We can't assume any longer that suicide rates are uniformly higher in white individuals than black," said Jeffrey Bridge, lead author and an epidemiologist who directs the Center for Suicide Prevention and Research at Nationwide Children's Hospital.
"There is this age-related disparity, and now we have to understand the underlying reasons. ... Most of the previous research has largely concerned white suicide. So we don't even know if the same risk and protective factors apply to black youth," Bridge said.
According to AJMC, Bridge said more information in needed to understand the difference in the statistics, adding that the understanding could help create targeted interventions.
"The existing literature does not adequately describe the extent of age-related racial disparities in youth suicide, and understanding these differences is essential to creating targeted prevention efforts," said Bridge, who also serves as a professor of Pediatrics, Psychiatry and Behavioral Health at The Ohio State University College of Medicine.
"We lacked information on key factors that may underlie racial differences in suicide, including access to culturally acceptable behavioral health care or the potential role of death due to homicide among older black youth as a competing risk for suicide in this subgroup,"
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