A study published in the JAMA Pediatrics on Tuesday found the suicide rate among black boys has doubled since 1993. The suicide rate among white children during the same period has declined.
The study tracked the suicide rate of children aged 5 to 11 from 1993 to 2012. During the period studied, the suicide rate among black boys rose from 1.78 to 3.47 per million, while suicides among white boys dropped from 1.96 to 1.31 per million.
“I was shocked, I’ll be honest with you,” said Jeffrey Bridge, lead researcher and epidemiologist at the Research Institute at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus.
“I looked at it and I thought, ‘Did we do the analysis correctly?’ I thought we had made a mistake,” Bridge told the New York Times.
“We were very surprised to see higher suicide rates among black children over time,” added Bridge.
“The stable overall suicide rate in school-aged children in the United States during 20 years of study obscured a significant increase in suicide incidence in black children and a significant decrease in suicide incidence among white children. Findings highlight a potential racial disparity that warrants attention. Further studies are needed to monitor these emerging trends and identify risk, protective, and precipitating factors relevant to suicide prevention efforts in children younger than 12 years,” the journal concluded.
The rate of suicide among black girls is also rising, increasing from .68 to 1.23 per one million. The suicide rate for white girls during that same period went from 0.25 to 0.24 per 1 million.
This increase in suicide in black children is alarming since it goes against the national trend.
“Historically, the suicide rate among US black individuals has been lower than that of white individuals across age groups, although the gap between black and white boys aged 10 to 19 years narrowed from 1980 to 1995.9,15 To our knowledge, this is the first national study to observe higher suicide rates among US black individuals compared with white individuals.”