Online Program

Youth violence, suicide, and homicide in u.s. urban cities: Changing trends in rates and risk factors

Monday, November 4, 2013

Melissa M. Kelley, MS, School of Public Health, Community Health Sciences, University of California, Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA
Billie Weiss, MPH, Southern California Injury Prevention Research Center, Fielding School of Public Health, UCLA, Retired, Pacific Palisades, CA
Background: While youth violence has generally decreased, it is still at unacceptably high levels. Nationwide, homicide is the second leading cause of death for 15–24 year olds, and suicide the third leading cause of death. This analysis examines trends in youth violence rates and risk factors before and after the inception of the UNITY Initiative, a comprehensive strategy aimed at youth violence prevention.

Methods: Secondary data actors were obtained from the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) and Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System (YRBSS). NCHS data on homicide, suicide, and firearm deaths as well as YRBSS data on violence, school violence, and suicide measures were assessed.

Results: The overall 5-year average homicide and firearm frequency for UNITY cities decreased between 1999-2003 and 2005-2009, however, the 5-year average homicide rate per 100,000 people increased slightly. For all UNITY cities, the 5-year average suicide frequency and the 5-year average annual suicide rate per 100,000 for 15-24 year olds decreased between 1999-2003 and 2005-2009. In terms of violence risk factors, the majority of cities were below the national average in the number of youth electronically bullied, and those that reportedly carried a weapon. All UNITY cities were below the national average for youth that seriously considered attempting suicide.

Discussion: While all UNITY cities have seen a decrease in suicides and suicidal behavior since the initiative's inception, violence rates and risk factors have only improved for some cities. More research is necessary to understand what city-level factors can help prevent youth violence.

Learning Areas:

Planning of health education strategies, interventions, and programs
Public health or related education
Public health or related public policy
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
Describe current rates of youth homicide, suicide, and firearm violence. List risk factors for youth violence. Discuss how trends have changed in youth violence rates and risk factors in select U.S. cities.

Keyword(s): Homicide, Youth Violence

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: my educational qualifications include an MS in Public Health and a BS in Microbiology, Immunology, and Molecular Genetics. I am currently working on my PhD in Public Health with minors in Urban Planning and Geography.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.

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