Even One Is Too Many- Preventing Suicide among Black American Boys and Girls

Stop Suicide sign, a black hand with a yellow ribbon.


Suicide statistics paint a grim picture for today’s African American Youth. With rates nearly doubling between 1993-2012, suicide is now the third leading cause of death among African American Youth (Bridge et al., 2015; CDC, 2014). African American boys age 5-11 are more likely than any other age group to succumb to suicide, and so it is imperative that we unite to both fully illuminate and mitigate this disaster. To combat further tragedies, the Central East Mental Health Technology Transfer Center is launching an initiative to increase the awareness about the behavioral health needs of Black American boys and girls, including warning signs for suicidal ideation.

In the coming months, the Central East will engage in a wide array of activities to raise awareness for suicide prevention activities. We shall host webinars, provide in-person trainings, and release both fact sheets and referral resources, as well as provide comparative national and regional rates of suicide amongst Black American boys and girls compared to racial and ethnic populations, research findings related to the causes and effects of suicide amongst this population and evidence-based prevention culturally appropriate prevention strategies.

If you would like to receive information on upcoming events or if you know of an organization in HHS Region 3 that provides crisis intervention, counseling or suicide prevention resources, please email the Central East MHTTC.


What Is Going On?

Using national data from 2001 to 2015, Bridge et al. (2015) found that suicide rates among 5- to 12-year-olds were about two times higher in black children than white children. Nationwide, suicides among black children under 18 are up 71 percent in the past decade, rising from 86 in 2006 to 147 in 2016. Researchers cautioned that while these findings call attention to an important trend, they are unable to provide an explanation for it.

Read the abstract.


Why is More Research Needed?

On December 6, 2018, The Honorable Bonnie Watson, Congresswoman, New Jersey 12th Congressional District hosted a briefing entitled, “Racial Disparity in Mental Health – the Need for Inclusion in Research and Resources".

Watch the briefing.


Food for Thought

Schools are the institutions most consistently interacting with children and therefore can play and important role in identifying suicide warning signs and risk factors.

Learn more: What role can a school play?




Congressional Briefing, December 2016, New York University McSilver Institute for Poverty and Research, New York  City, New York

Bridge, J.A., Artisi, L. Horowitz, L.M., Greenhouse, J.B., Fontanella, C.A., Sheftall, A.H., Kelleher,K.J., & Campo, J.V. (2015). Suicide trends among elementary school-aged children in the United States from 1993-2011. JAMA Pediatrics, 169(7), 673-677