Purpose: There is a paucity of research on racial/ethnic differences in preceding circumstances of suicide among adolescents aged 10-19 years and consequential potential misclassification of suicide deaths (i.e., manner of death classified as injury of undetermined intent). This study (1) examined preceding circumstances of suicide among non-Hispanic White, non-Hispanic Black, non-Hispanic Asian/Pacific Islander (A/PI), non-Hispanic American Indian/Alaskan Native (AI/AN), and Hispanic adolescent decedents; and (2) investigated potential suicide misclassification of racial/ethnic minority decedents.
Methods: We used data from the 2006-2015 National Violent Death Reporting System Restricted Access Database. Multivariable logistic regression analyses examined differences in depressed mood, mental health problem and treatment, crisis in the past 2 weeks, problems with school, intimate partner, family relationship, and other relationships (e.g., friend) among racial/ethnic minority decedents compared to White decedents. A separate logistic regression analysis assessed potential suicide misclassification of racial/ethnic minority decedents relative to White counterparts.
Results: Adjusting for sex and suicide history and circumstances, all racial/ethnic minority decedents had significantly lower odds of documented mental health problem and treatment compared to White decedents. Racial/ethnic differences in relationship problems were also identified. Black decedents had significantly higher odds of manner-of-death classification as undetermined intent than did White decedents, suggesting greater likelihood of suicide misclassification.
Conclusions: Circumstances contributing to suicide among adolescents differ by race/ethnicity, indicating the need for culturally tailored suicide prevention efforts.
Keywords: Intentional injury death; NVDRS; Race/ethnicity; Self-injury; Youth.
© 2021. W. Montague Cobb-NMA Health Institute.