UCLA Study Finds Significant Increase in Firearm Suicide Among Young Black Adults

The suicide rate for young Black adults has increased significantly since 2013, according to a new research report co-authored by UCLA Luskin’s Mark Kaplan, professor of social welfare. Increases in overall suicide rates among young Black and other racial/ethnic minority populations are characterized as “alarming” by Kaplan and colleagues from UCLA and UC Merced in the study published by the journal Archives of Suicide Research. Based on data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the research team identified adults aged 18-25 who died by suicide from any method, as well as firearm-related suicides in the United States. After more than a decade of declining rates of suicide among young Black adults, the new results showed an 84.5% increase in the firearm suicide rate among Black men and a 76.9% increase among young Black women between 2013 and 2019. “The mechanisms/causes of this concerning trend are not clear,” wrote Kaplan and co-authors about the “sharp reversal” of the downward trend since 2013. “This context highlights how the intersection of age, gender and race influences suicide trends.” Additional research in relation to suicide risk is recommended around potential population-level environmental exposures, rising racial and economic inequalities, and the recent proliferation of firearms. “Future research should consider how structural factors may lead to suicide and the appropriate analytic methods needed to draw rigorous inferences from these complex relationships,” researchers said.


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