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Reports Find That Suicide Rates For Black Women & Girls Over The Past Two Decades Have Surged From 1.9 to 4.9 Per 100,000

A study by Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health reveals a significant increase in suicide rates among Black women in the U.S. from 1999 to 2020, with the most notable rise among Black teens and young adults. Published in the American Journal of Psychiatry, this research is the first to analyze the suicide epidemiology of Black females by geographic regions in the U.S., spanning ages 15 to 84.

The findings show that suicide rates climbed from 2 deaths per 100,000 in 1999 to 3.4 per 100,000 in 2020. For Black women aged 15 to 24, the rate surged from 1.9 to 4.9 per 100,000. Victoria Joseph, MPH, the lead author, emphasized the alarming rate increases among young Black females, particularly between ages 25 and 27, highlighting a critical developmental period needing additional support.

The study suggests these increases may be linked to rising instances of cyberbullying and online racial attacks. Researchers also noted that structural racism and resulting mistrust in support systems might hinder care access, impacting suicide behaviors.

Using data from the National Center for Health Statistics' Multiple Cause of Death 1999-2020 database, the study analyzed 9,271 suicide deaths among Black women. A pattern emerged showing a clear age effect, with higher rates in younger women; a period effect, with increasing rates over time; and a cohort effect, particularly high in those born after 2002.

Regional differences were also significant, with the highest rates observed in the West and a concentration of deaths in the South due to its larger Black population. Factors like intimate partner violence and neighborhood violence were identified as significant contributors to the mental health challenges faced by Black women, particularly in certain regions.

The study, supported by an NIH grant, calls for more detailed future research on state-level trends and the impacts on various ethnicities and gender identities. Co-authors include researchers from various institutions, emphasizing the collaborative effort to understand and address this critical public health issue.


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