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Gender Gap in U.S. Youth Suicide Narrowed From 1975 to 2016

Last Updated: May 21, 2019.

There was a significant reduction in the gap between male and female rates of suicide among youth aged 10 to 19 years in the United States from 1975 through 2016, according to a study published online May 17 in JAMA Network Open.

TUESDAY, May 21, 2019 (HealthDay News) -- There was a significant reduction in the gap between male and female rates of suicide among youth aged 10 to 19 years in the United States from 1975 through 2016, according to a study published online May 17 in JAMA Network Open.

In an effort to evaluate gender-based trends in suicide rates, Donna A. Ruch, Ph.D., from Nationwide Children's Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, and colleagues examined data for 85,051 U.S. youth suicide deaths from 1975 through 2016.

The researchers found that during the study period, 80.1 percent of deaths were among male youth, with a male-to-female incidence rate ratio (IRR) of 3.82. Suicide rates for female youth showed the largest significant percentage increase compared with male youth, following a downward trend until 2007 (12.7 versus 7.1 percent for ages 10 to 14 years; 7.9 versus 3.5 percent for ages 15 to 19 years). Across the study period, the male-to-female IRR decreased significantly for youth aged 10 to 14 years (3.14 to 1.80) and 15 to 19 years (4.15 to 3.31). This significant decline in the male-to-female IRR was seen for non-Hispanic white youth aged 10 to 14 years (3.27 to 2.04) and non-Hispanic youth of other races aged 15 to 19 years (4.02 to 2.35). For youth aged 15 to 19 years, the male-to-female IRR for suicide by firearms increased significantly, while the male-to-female IRR of suicide by hanging or suffocation decreased significantly for both age groups. There was no significant change in the male-to-female IRR of suicide by poisoning across the study period.

"A significant reduction in the historically large gap in youth suicide rates between male and female individuals underscores the importance of interventions that consider unique differences by sex," the authors write.

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