Young Men at Much Higher Risk for Suicide Than Young Women

Pam Harrison

September 30, 2015

Men between aged 18 to 24 years from the five most common racial and ethnic groups in the United States are significantly more likely to commit suicide than women of that age group, according to recent Health E-Stat data released by the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS).

In 2012 to 2013, death rates by suicide were 20.4 per 100,000 among men aged 18 to 24 years for the five racial and ethnic groups overall compared with 4.8 per 100,000 among young adult women for all races and ethnic groups.

Among young adult non-Hispanic whites, suicide rates were 24.8 per 100,000 men vs 5.5 per 100,000 women. Among non-Hispanic blacks, rates were 14.7 per 100,000 in young men vs 3.1 per 100,000 in young women.

Suicide rates were somewhat lower young Hispanic and Asian or Pacific Islanders of that age, but they were still higher among young men, at 12.9 per 1000,000 Hispanic men vs 3.2 per 100,000 population in young Hispanic women and 13.0 per 100,000 in young Asian or Pacific islander men vs 5.2 per 100,000 among young Asian or Pacific islander women.

Among American Indian or Alaska native populations aged 18 to 24 years, suicide rates among men far exceeded those of any other race or ethnic group, at 34.3 per 100,000 among men vs 9.9 per 100,000 for their female counterparts.

This means that young American Indian and Alaska native men were more than two times as likely to commit suicide as young men of most other racial and ethnic subgroups, the authors of the report, under Caroline Jiang, National Center for Health Statistics, and colleagues point out in a statement.

They also note that it is likely that suicide rates for this ethnic population are underestimated, inasmuch as earlier studies have found that deaths overall in the American Indian or Alaskan native population are underreported by 30%.

The methods by which the different racial and ethnic groups committed suicide also varied considerably.

Both non-Hispanic whites and non-Hispanic blacks used firearms to commit suicide, at roughly 50% in each racial/ethnic group.

American Indian or Alaska natives used firearms to commit suicide in 40% of cases, but they chose suffocation more often; suffocation was involved in almost half (49%) of all suicides in this group.

Hispanics were less likely to use firearms, at about 36% of suicides overall, and again were more likely to use suffocation, which occurred in about 47% of the suicides overall in this group.

Asian or Pacific Islanders were the least likely to use firearms, at 27% of suicides overall. Suffocation rates were at about 43%, making it the more common method of committing suicide among this ethnic group.

Poisoning was more common among Asian or Pacific Islanders, at approximately 13% of overall suicides. It was used as a means of suicide in 9% or less in the other four racial or ethnic groups analyzed.

Data from the Heath E-Stat report were obtained from the National Vital Statistics System, which is compiled from data provided by some 57 US vital statistics jurisdictions through the Vital Statistics Cooperation Program.

NCHS. Racial and gender disparities in suicide among young adults aged 18-24: United States, 2009-2013. Published online September 30, 2015. Full text

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