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Healthy People 2010 - With Annotations

Chapter 18

Mental Health Status Improvement

18-2. Reduce the rate of suicide attempts by adolescents.

12-month average of 1 percent.

Baseline: 12-month average of 2.6 percent among adolescents in grades 9 through 12 in 1997.

Target setting method: Better than the best.

Data source: Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS), CDC, NCCDPHP.

Students in
Grades 9 Through 12, 1997
Suicide Attempts
Race and ethnicity  
American Indian or Alaska Native DSU
Asian or Pacific Islander DSU
Asian DSU
Native Hawaiian - Pacific Islander DSU
Black or African American DNC
White DNC
Hispanic or Latino 2.8
Not Hispanic or Latino DNA
Black or African American 2.4
White 2.0
Female 3.3
Male 2.0
Family income level  
Poor DNA
Near poor DNA
Middle/high income DNA

DNA = Data have not been analyzed. DNC = Data are not collected. DSU = Data are statistically unreliable.

Suicide is a complex behavior that can be prevented in many cases by early recognition and treatment of mental disorders. It was the ninth leading cause of death in the U.S. in 1996 and the third leading killer of young persons between the ages of 15 and 24.(see references below) At least 90 percent of all people who kill themselves have a mental or substance abuse disorder, or a combination of disorders. However, most persons with a mental or substance abuse disorder do not kill themselves, thus other factors contribute to suicide risk. In addition to mental and substance abuse disorders, risk factors include prior suicide attempt, stressful life events, and access to lethal suicide methods. Suicide is difficult to predict; therefore, preventive interventions focus on risk factors. Thus, reduction in access to lethal methods and recognition and treatment of mental and substance abuse disorders are among the most promising approaches to suicide prevention. More targeted approaches should consider risk factors most salient and appropriate for select populations.


- Montano, C.B. Recognition and treatment of depression in a primary care setting. Journal of Clinical Psychiatry 55:18-34, 1994.

- NCHS, CDC. Health United States, 1996. Hyattsville, MD: Public Health Service, 1997.

- National Institute of Mental Health Suicide Research Consortium. Suicide Facts. Rockville, MD: National Institute of Mental Health, 1997.

- CDC. Ten leading causes of death by age group, 1996. [Online]
Retrieved November 23, 1999. (Link broken, 13 March 2000)

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Last modified: 10-Mar-2000.