Researchers Examine Trends in Suicide Among Black Women in the United States, 1999–2020

Dec 12, 2023 | News

Editor’s Note: One of the authors of the article referenced is Jeffrey Shaman, PRI Epidemiology and Modeling Co-Lead.

In a Priority Data Letter recently published in the American Journal of Psychiatry, researchers explore the epidemiology of suicide among Black females in the United States between 1999 and 2020, shedding light on concerning trends, particularly among those born in recent years. Suicide rates among Black females aged 15 to 84 increased from 2.1 per 100,000 in 1999 to 3.4 per 100,000 in 2020, with a pronounced increase among those aged 15–24, rising from 1.9 to 4.9 per 100,000. The analysis employs age, period, and cohort effects to understand the drivers of suicide risk, revealing a clear age effect with higher rates at younger ages, a period effect showing general increases over time, and a cohort effect indicating higher suicide rates among females born after 2002.

Geographical variations in suicide rates among Black females are also explored, with the study highlighting that the highest suicide rates are concentrated in the West, particularly among individuals aged 15–24 and 25–34, while the South sees the highest number of deaths. The findings underscore the urgent need for increased mental health care access among Black girls and women and a reduction in structural racism. The study is significant for being the first to examine suicide epidemiology among Black females in the U.S. by geographical region, though limitations include potential misclassification of suicide mortality and the absence of detailed information on prior suicide attempts, psychiatric history, or mental health service use in death certificates.

Read the full article at the American Journal of Psychiatry.