Suicide Trends Among Black Women in the U.S.

February 16, 2024

News Type:  Weekly Spark, Weekly Spark Research

A first-of-its-kind study examined trends in the epidemiology of suicide among Black girls and women by geographic region in the U.S.

Researchers used data from the National Center for Health Statistics’ Multiple Cause of Death database from 1999 to 2020. The study sample included 9,271 deaths among individuals who were Black or African American (including those who were Hispanic or Latino/a/x/e and multi-racial) and female ages 15 to 84. The rate of recorded suicide deaths per 100,000 was estimated based on U.S. Census Bureau population sizes and analyzed by 10-year groups.

The analysis found suicide rates among Black females in the U.S. increased from 2.1/100,000 in 1999 to 3.4/100,000 in 2020. Rate increases were concentrated in the 15-24 age group, which increased from 1.9 to 4.9/100,000 during this period. When analyzed by census region, suicide rates were highest in the west and suicide numbers were highest in the south.

According to the authors, these findings point to a need for increased access to mental health care for Black girls and women, the reduction of structural racism, and geographically tailored prevention efforts. A related editorial expands on factors associated with suicide among Black girls and women as well as strategies to address these factors.

Joseph, V. A., Martinez-Ales, G., Olfson, M., Shaman, J., Gould, M. S., Gimbrone, C., & Keyes, K. M. (2023). Trends in suicide among Black women in the United States, 1999–2020. American Journal of Psychiatry, 180(12), 914–917.