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Suicide rates for black children aged 5 - 12 are roughly double that of white children in the same age bracket, a new study shows.

In the United States, suicide rates have traditionally been higher among white communities than black, however, a new study by JAMA Pediatrics shows that disparities are age related.

Data collected between 2001-2015 showed that suicide rates were 42 per cent lower among black youths in the age bracket from 15-17. However, from age 5-12, black children were two times as likely to take their own lives.

Jeff Bridge, director of the Centre for Suicide Prevention and Research at Nationwide Children and the study's main author commented:

Our findings provide further evidence of a significant age-related racial disparity in childhood suicide rates and rebut the long-held perception that suicide rates are uniformly higher in whites than blacks in the United States.

He continued:

The large age-related racial difference in suicide rates did not change during the study period, suggesting that this disparity is not explained by recent events such as the economic recession.

Although the findings highlight the potential for targetted prevention efforts, data was limited and researchers couldn't identify exact causes for age related differences.

Going forward, Bridge thinks changes need to be made to data collection:

Surveillance efforts need to reflect the association between age and suicide. We can't just rely on age groupings across five-year developmental periods. When the CDC publishes statistics, the groupings cut across large developmental periods and that runs the risk of missing some age-related differences in the risk for suicide.

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