Deaths Due to Suicide, Homicide on the Rise Among U.S. Youth


THURSDAY, Oct. 17, 2019 (HealthDay News) — The anger and fear seething throughout the United States could be having a fatal impact on some of the nation’s youngest citizens.

More teens and young adults are coming to a violent end in recent years, either at their own hand or another’s, new federal data show.

Both suicide and homicide death rates are rising among 10- to 24-year-olds, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS).

“Recently, in the last few years, they’re both trending upward. Suicide began to turn upward earlier, in 2007, and now in 2014, homicide turned around as well,” said Sally Curtin, an NCHS statistician. “These are leading causes of death, and they both are increasing now.”

The suicide rate for young people aged 10 to 24 rose 56% between 2007 and 2017, with the pace increasing of late, the researchers said.

Suicide deaths increased 7% annually from 2013 to 2017, compared with 3% annually between 2007 and 2013, the investigators found.

Meanwhile, homicide deaths among 10- to 24-year-olds rose 18% between 2014 and 2017, after nearly a decade in decline, the researchers said.

Accidental deaths — car crashes, drug overdoses and drownings — remain the leading cause of death in this age group, Curtin said. But deaths due to suicide and homicide are right behind, and rising.

These statistics amount to a “very serious public health crisis,” said Dr. Victor Fornari, vice chairman of child and adolescent psychiatry at Zucker Hillside Hospital in Glen Oaks, N.Y.

It’s impossible to nail down any single cause for this increase in violent deaths among the young, said Dr. Alex Crosby, chief medical officer for the division of injury prevention at the CDC.

“There’s probably a combination of several factors,” Crosby said.

One likely suspect, according to Fornari, is increasing levels of anger across the country.

“Society as a whole has become more polarized, angrier, less tolerant,” he said. “There’s more scapegoating. Emotions are running very high, and society as a whole is becoming a bit angry. We see that in the overt aggression that’s manifested by the increased rates of homicide.”

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