Mortality, Unintentional Injury and Violence


In 2007, unintentional injury, homicide, and suicide were three of the leading causes of death among male and female adolescents, ages 15-19. Significant racial and ethnic disparities are clearly evident in adolescent mortality. Non-Hispanic Black mortality was 85.7 per 100,000, more than 50% higher than in Hispanic and Non-Hispanic White adolescents at rates of 57.9 and 58.0 per 100,000, respectively (Figure 1-2).

Unintentional Injury

In 2009, motor vehicle accidents were the leading cause of death among US teens, accounting for more than one in three teen deaths. The risk of vehicular crashes is highest among youth, ages 16-19 — an age group four times more likely to crash than older drivers. Among all racial groups, except non-Hispanic Black youth, unintentional injuries and, more specifically, motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of mortality. In non-Hispanic Black youth, violence is the major cause of death.


Among non-Hispanic Black youth, ages 10-24, homicide was the leading cause of death in 2010. As seen in the Figure 1-3, in Americans 10 to 24 years old, homicide death rates were more than 10 times higher among non-Hispanic Blacks than non-Hispanic Whites or Asian/Pacific Islanders. For males, the racial and ethnic disparity was even worse. In non-Hispanic Black males (ages 10-24), the homicide rates were 60.7 per 100,000, far exceeding those of Hispanic males (20.6 per 100,000) and non-Hispanic White males (3.5 per 100,000) in the same age group. Homicide was the second leading cause of death among Hispanics (ages 10-24), and the third leading cause of death for all other racial groups. In 2010, 84% of the homicides in this age group were committed with firearms. In American Indian/Alaskan Natives, the suicide rate was the highest of any racial/ethnic group, and at least three times higher than non-Hispanic Blacks, Hispanics, and Asian/Pacific Islanders (Figure 1-3).

According to the 2009 Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System (YRBSS), 17.5% of surveyed youth reported carrying a weapon – such as a gun or knife – at least one day during the month prior to the survey, while 31.5% reported engaging in one or more physical altercations in the previous 12 months.