CDC report finds sudden jump in teen deaths
A nation-wide increase in accidental deaths, homicides, and suicides among the youth of America has experts on alert and calling for increased efforts to treat mental health issues in the young.
After a 14-year period of decline in the death rate for 10- to 19-year-olds in the US between 1999 and 2013, a new report from the National Center for Health Statistics at the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that the death rate suddenly leaped by 12% between 2013 and 2016.
According to the report, the bulk of this increase is attributed to injury-related deaths, including traffic collisions, drug overdoses, homicides, and suicide, rather than illness.
“When I first conceded to do this report 2½ years ago, I thought that we would be documenting a decline,” Sally Curtin, a statistician at the CDC in Washington and lead author of the report, told CNN.
“We were surprised that there was such a broad increase across so many causes of death,” she said. “There wasn’t just one that was contributing.”
Among all adolescents between 15- and 19-years old, the leading cause of death remained unintentional injuries like car crash fatalities. However, these were followed by deaths from suicide and homicide, according to the CDC.
The report relied on data collected from death certificates filed in all 50 states and the District of Columbia between 1996 and 2016. While this provided a nationwide view of the teen death rate, the researchers note this brings in inherent inconsistencies, as some states vary in how they classify specific forms of death.
“Accurate recording of the circumstances surrounding the death as well as classifying the death obviously would be a limitation, and especially within the context of a drug overdose,” Curtin said. “Oftentimes, it’s hard to tell, unless there’s a suicide note, whether it was a suicide or unintentional.”
Based on the data, unintentional injuries or accidents were the leading cause of injury-related deaths for adolescents between 10 and 19-years old, followed by suicide, and then homicide.
Overall, the rate of accidental deaths for 10- to 19-years old declined nearly 50% between 1999 and 2013, before rising 13% between 2013 and 2016.
Suicide rates showed a similar trend, declining by 15% between 1999 and 2007. Since then, the rate has increased by 56%, accounting for 6.1 deaths per 100,000. The leading methods of suicide in 2016 were suffocation, firearms, and poisoning.