U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Health Resources and Services Administration

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Adolescent Mortality

In 2007, 13,299 adolescents aged 15 to 19 years died of various causes, representing a rate of 61.9 per 100,000. Unintentional injury remains the leading cause of death among this age group, accounting for nearly half of all deaths among adolescents. The mortality rate for unintentional injury was 30.3 per 100,000. Homicide was the second leading cause of death, with a rate of 10.4 per 100,000, followed by suicide, with a rate of 6.9 per 100,000. The mortality rate of males in this age group was notably higher than that of females (86.9 versus 35.7 per 100,000, respectively). Racial and ethnic disparities also exist, with non-Hispanic Black adolescents experiencing a mortality rate of 85.7 per 100,000, compared to rates of 58.0 and 57.9 per 100,000 among non-Hispanic Whites and Hispanics, respectively (data not shown).

Motor vehicle traffic was the leading cause of unintentional injury death among adolescents in 2007. Nearly half of deaths due to motor vehicle accidents occurred among vehicle occupants, while in 40 percent of the deaths the situation was not specified; a small percentage of motor vehicle deaths occurred among motorcyclists, pedestrians, and bicyclists. The second leading cause of unintentional injury death among adolescents was poisoning, followed by drowning, other land transport (such as all-terrain vehicle crashes), and fires/burns. However, when intentional injuries such as homicide and suicide are included, firearms becomes the second leading cause of injury death. Nearly three-quarters (71 percent) of firearm deaths were homicides, while 23 percent were suicides (the remainder were unintentional, unknown, or due to legal intervention). Firearms accounted for 85 percent of homicide deaths and 43 percent of suicide deaths (suffocation, such as hanging, was the second leading cause of suicide death, accounting for another 42 percent; data not shown).

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