Purpose: Considerable mortality occurs during adolescence despite it being a relatively healthy period of life. Nationwide analysis of adolescent mortality data helps identify those sub-groups with higher-than-expected death rates, that may be amenable to preventive intervention programs.
Methods: Adolescent mortality in Israel during 1981-1986 is examined by age (10-14, 15-19 years), sex, population group (Jews, non-Jews), and cause of death. Data were abstracted primarily from special publications for 1981-1986. Recently available mortality updates for 1987-1989 were inspected and significant changes in mortality during the latter period have been included.
Results: Among an average of approximately 800,000 adolescents aged 10-19 years living in Israel during 1981-1986, the majority (77%) were Jews. Overall mortality was 36.7 per 100,000. Death rates were almost twice as high for males as for females, increased with age for all population subgroups, and were 63% higher for non-Jews compared with Jews. Accidents were the major cause of death among Israeli adolescents (37.7% of total mortality), with male-to-female rate ratio of 3.4. Mortality from all external causes, including accidents, suicide, homicide, and other external causes accounted for 50.6% of all deaths. Neoplasms were the next major cause of death. Israel and U.S. adolescent mortality rates were compared and showed similar trends.
Conclusions: The non-Jewish minority adolescents, and most particularly the males, are at the highest risk of death. Preventive intervention programs should be targeted to the high-risk populations described.