This report presents data on the prevalence of juvenile suicide between 1981 and 1998, the demographics of the juveniles who committed suicide, and the use of a firearm in juvenile suicides.
Between 1981 and 1998, 20,775 juveniles ages 7-17 committed suicide in the United States. Males were the victims in 78 percent of these suicides. Over this same period, the suicide rate for American Indian juveniles was far higher than for any other race. The suicide rate for white juveniles averaged nearly twice the rates for Black youth and Asian youth; the suicide rate for American Indian juveniles was almost twice the rate for white youth. Of the juveniles who committed suicide during this time period, 66 percent of the males and 62 percent of the females were 17 years old. Sixty-two percent of juvenile suicides were committed with a firearm; 24 percent were due to suffocation (primarily hanging); and 10 percent were caused by poisoning. Firearms were used more often in the suicides of white (63 percent) and Black (64 percent) juveniles than in the suicides of American Indian (45 percent) and Asian (46 percent) juveniles. The States with the highest rates of juvenile suicide were Alaska, Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, and New Mexico, in that order. In contrast to trends in the rate of murder by juveniles, the suicide rate for juveniles ages 7-17 increased from the early to the late 1980's; it remained relatively constant for most of the 1990's. 7 figures and 1 table