Morbidity and Mortality
The teen years are the healthiest period of life. By far and away, the major threats to well-being are behavioral.
- Accidents, homicide and suicide account for 3 out of every 4 deaths among adolescents. Males are about twice as likely as females to die during adolescence.
- Motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of mortality, accounting for 40% of deaths among 15-19 year olds. The death rate for males is twice that for females. Risk-taking behavior, such as not wearing seat belts and using alcohol, accounts for many of the fatalities.
- Firearms are the second leading cause of death among 15-19 year olds. Most firearm deaths are a result of homicide, but guns are also commonly used in completed suicides. The firearm death rate among males is eight times that for females. Firearm injuries are the most common cause of death among African American males.
- Teens have the lowest suicide rates of any age group except for children. Female teens are much more likely to attempt suicide than males, but male teens are four times more likely to actually kill themselves. Youth Risk Behavior Surveys have revealed that suicidal ideation is relatively common. Almost 1 in 5 teens had seriously considered attempting suicide while more than 1 in 6 had made plans to attempt suicide, and more than 1 in 12 had made a suicide attempt in the past year. All suicidal behavior should be looked at seriously and not written off simply as a 'manipulative' suicide gesture. Manipulative or not, it is dangerous and shows a lack of effective coping strategies.
- Other causes of death include malignancies, such as leukemia and brain cancer, heart disease and congenital anomalies.