Trends in Suicide among Urban White and Urban African American Males: 1980 to 2002

Tim Wadsworth, University of Colorado at Boulder
Charis Kubrin, George Washington University
Jerald Herting, University of Washington

Historically, whites have committed suicide at a greater rate than blacks. However, recent reports show this gap is narrowing, primarily due to a significant rise in young African American male suicide. While many explanations for this increase have been proposed, we know of no empirical research that has examined the causes of increased rates nor made comparisons of long term trends in these patterns across cities. Using data from the Multiple Mortality Cause of Death Records, the Supplemental Homicide Reports, and the U.S. Census for 1980-2000, we employ latent growth model approaches, as well as pooled time series to examine the process by which variation and change in the demographic, economic, and cultural characteristics of cities have influenced suicide subpopulations. To our knowledge, this is the first study to examine the causes and correlates of rising suicide rates among young black males over the last twenty plus years.

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Presented in Session 158: Race and Ethnic Disparities in Morbidity and Mortality in the United States