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Chapter 5. Health and Wellness

Indicator 51. Causes of Death

The overall death rate for youth and young adults ages 15 to 24 decreased from 115 per 100,000 persons in 1980 to 70 per 100,000 in 2009, although there were some fluctuations during this period. Deaths by accidents were the leading cause of death for youth and young adults in each year shown between 1980 and 2009. In 2009, the accident death rate was 29 per 100,000, down from 62 per 100,000 in 1980. The homicide death rate for 15- to 24-year-olds peaked in 1990 at 20 per 100,000; between 2000 and 2009, this rate remained between 11 and 14 per 100,000. The rate of death by suicide among the youth and young adult population declined from 13 per 100,000 in 1985 to 10 per 100,000 in 2000, where it remained through 2009. Deaths resulting from cancer generally declined from 6 deaths per 100,000 in 1980 to 4 deaths per 100,000 in 2009 among 15- to 24-year-olds. The number of deaths by influenza and pneumonia remained between 0.4 and 1 per 100,000 15- to 24-year-olds between 1980 and 2009. The human immunodeficiency virus death rate fell from 1.5 per 100,000 in 1990 to 0.5 per 100,000 in 2000, and was 0.3 deaths per 100,000 persons in 2009.

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51a. Snapshot: Causes of Death by Race/Ethnicity

Death rates for youth and young adults ages 15 to 24 differed by race/ethnicity and sex in 2007, the latest year for which detailed mortality data were available. American Indians/Alaska Natives had the highest overall rate of death per 100,000 youth and young adults (129), followed by Blacks (113), Hispanics (76), Whites (74), and Asians (43). American Indians/Alaska Natives also had the highest rates of death per 100,000 youth and young adults by accident (66) and suicide (26) in 2007, while Blacks had the highest rates of death per 100,000 youth and young adults by homicide (49) and non-injury (29). Non-injury includes deaths by cancer, heart disease, human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), influenza/pneumonia, and other health-related causes. These relative patterns by race/ethnicity were true for both male and female subgroups.

In 2007, males ages 15 to 24 had an overall death rate of 116 per 100,000, compared to a rate of 42 per 100,000 for females. Also, in each racial/ethnic group, males had over twice the total death rate of females. The overall rate of death by homicide for males was at least six times that of females for Blacks (88 vs. 9 per 100,000) and Hispanics (30 vs. 4 per 100,000). The overall death rate by homicide for males was more than three times that of females for American Indians/Alaska Natives (17 vs. 5 per 100,000) and Asians/Pacific Islanders (7 vs. 2 per 100,000). The homicide death rate for White males was 5 per 100,000, compared with 2 per 100,000 for White females. Males in all racial/ethnic groups had higher death rates from non-injuries than females had. Suicide death rates were also higher for males than for females across all racial/ethnic groups in 2007. American Indians/Alaska Natives had the highest rate of death by suicide per 100,000 persons (41 for males and 10 for females), followed by Whites (18 and 4), Asians/Pacific Islanders (14 and 4), Hispanics (12 and 2), and Blacks (11 and 2).

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