Risk factors for suicide in Caucasians and in African-Americans: a matched case-control study

Soc Psychiatry Psychiatr Epidemiol. 1998 Apr;33(4):155-61. doi: 10.1007/s001270050038.


It is known that suicide rates for Caucasians are higher than those for African-Americans. However, there has been little research examining whether risk factors associated with suicide differ by race, when the effects of age, gender, and educational-occupational status are taken into account. A matched case-control study was constructed from the 1986 National Mortality Followback Survey to address such concerns. Cases included all individuals aged between 25 and 64 years dying from suicide. Controls were those who died of natural causes, who were frequency matched to cases by age and gender. The study results for Caucasians indicate that those who had at least a high school education were more likely to commit suicide [odds ratio (OR) = 1.91; 95% confidence interval (CI) = 1.37-2.67] than those who had less than a high school education; those who were heavy drinkers were more likely to commit suicide (OR = 1.64; 95% CI = 1.16-2.33) than those who were light or moderate drinkers; those who lived alone were more likely to commit suicide (OR = 1.72; 95% CI = 1.28-2.30) than those who lived with others, those who had blue-collar occupations were more likely to commit suicide (OR = 1.79; 95% CI = 1.33-2.42) than those who had white-collar occupations, and those who had used mental health services were more likely to commit suicide (OR = 3.07; 95% CI = 2.34-4.01) than those who had not used them. For African-Americans, use of mental health services was the only factor significantly associated with suicide (OR = 4.56 95% CI = 1.69-12.29).

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • African Americans / statistics & numerical data*
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Confidence Intervals
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Odds Ratio
  • Risk Factors
  • Suicide / ethnology*
  • United States / epidemiology
  • Whites / statistics & numerical data*