Suicide and African Americans


Suicide is increasingly becoming a major public health issue. Each year over one million people die by suicide worldwide. The World Health Organization estimates that suicide is the thirteenth leading cause of death worldwide (Gross 2006) and the National Safety Council rates death by suicide eleventh in the United States (Minino and Heron 2006). It is a leading cause of death among teenagers and adults under 35 (Nikola 2006). The rate of completed suicide is higher in men than in women (O’Connor and Noel 2000). It is estimated that workforce-related suicides cost businesses as much as $13 billion annually (Research! America 2008) and for every suicide prevented, the United States could save an average of $3,875 in medical expenses and $1,178,684 in lost productivity (Research! America 2008). Caucasians are twice as likely as African Americans to complete suicide. The rate of suicide is growing faster among African American youth than among Caucasian youth (American Association of Suicidology 2006); it is the third leading cause of death for African Americans aged 15-24 (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 2007). This is a descriptive study of various dimensions of suicide among African Americans in the past decade with a discussion of prevention and screening tools.

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