USA TODAY International Edition

Youth homicide rate hits a record

Data: Suicides rose, too, at start of pandemic

- Jeanine Santucci

The rate of homicide deaths for young people in the U. S. sharply increased at the start of the COVID- 19 pandemic, a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study of violent deaths over two decades found.

The study also found suicide rates were at a record high over the past several decades for young adults at the start of the pandemic as many across the country stayed home.

Here’s what the study examining 20 years of violent deaths among young people found:

Homicides in older teens rose to a record high

The homicide rate for older teenagers, those 15 to 19, rose to its highest point in nearly 25 years during the early years of the pandemic. All age groups saw the largest annual increase in homicides from 2019 to 2020.

The homicide rate went from 8.9 deaths per 100,000 older teens in 2019 to 12.3 deaths per 100,000 in 2020. It rose again to 12.8 deaths per 100,000 in 2021, the highest rate since 1997.

Researcher­s found that suicide and homicide rates for older teens and young adults were far higher than for teens in the 10- 14 age group. In 2019, about 7.8 deaths per 100,000 for the 10- 24 age group were homicides. That jumped to 10.7 per 100,000 in 2020.

Suicide rates had surpassed homicide rates for young people around 2010, but researcher­s found the rates were similar by 2021 because of the increase in homicides.

Suicide increase most profound among young adults over 20

Suicides among young people remained stable from 2001 to 2007, then increased 62% from 2007 to 2021, researcher­s found. In 2007, the suicide rate for people ages 10 to 24 was 6.8 per 100,000. That reached 11 deaths per 100,000 in 2021.

The age group of young adults, those 20 to 24, had the most profound rates, researcher­s found. The suicide rate for adults in their early 20s was the worst in more than 50 years at the start of the pandemic.

The rate of increase of suicides in that age range over 20 years was about 63%. Again, the largest annual increase was from 2020 to 2021.

What the data says about mental health and the pandemic

Suicide and homicide are the second- and third- leading causes of death for young people in 2021, according to the study. Earlier federal research has linked an increase in abuse, violence and other “adverse childhood experience­s” to worsening mental health during the pandemic.

More than a third of high school students reported in 2021 that their mental health suffered in the pandemic, CDC research has also found. About 44% said they felt persistent sadness or helplessne­ss in the past year.

Experts have pointed to factors including higher rates of depression, limited availabili­ty of mental health services and the number of guns in U. S. homes to explain the increases.

 ?? GETTY IMAGES ?? Students say they feel the pressures of the pandemic.
GETTY IMAGES Students say they feel the pressures of the pandemic.

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