In 2005, 13,703 deaths were reported among adolescents aged 15–19 years. After a moderate increase for this age group in the early 1980s, death rates have since gradually declined. Unintentional injury remains the leading cause of death among this age group and accounted for 48.3 percent of all deaths among adolescents in 2005. This is equivalent to a rate of 31.4 deaths per 100,000 adolescents, a 5 percent decrease from 2004. Homicide and suicide were the next leading causes of death, accounting for 15.2 and 11.8 percent, respectively, of all deaths within this age group. After a 12 percent increase in the adolescent suicide rate between 2003 and 2004, the rate declined about 8.5 percent to 7.7 suicides per 100,000 adolescents in 2005.
Deaths Due to Injury. Within the classification of deaths due to injury or other external causes, motor vehicle crashes were the leading cause of mortality among 15- to 19-year-olds in 2005, and accounted for 46 percent of injury-related deaths among adolescents. Alcohol is a significant contributor to these deaths: recent data suggest that nearly one-third of adolescent drivers killed in crashes had been drinking. Firearms were the next leading cause of fatal injury, accounting for 25 percent of injury-related deaths in this age group. Adolescent death rates due to motor vehicle injuries and firearms were similar in the early 1990s until 1994, when they began to diverge. The rate of adolescent firearm deaths was recorded at 12.3 per 100,000 population in 2005, about half the rate of motor vehicle injury deaths (23.0 per 100,000).