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Q: Do suicide-related behaviors of high school students vary by demographics?
A: In 2019, female high school students (grades 9-12) were more likely to report suicide-related behaviors than their male peers.

Characteristics of suicide-related behaviors reported by high school students, 2019

Demographics Considered suicide Planned suicide Attempted suicide Injured after an attempt
All high school students 18.8% 15.7% 8.9% 2.5%
Male 13.3% 11.3% 6.6% 1.7%
Female 24.1% 19.9% 11.0% 3.3%
White* 19.1% 15.7% 7.9% 2.1%
Black/African American* 16.9% 15.0% 11.8% 3.3%
Hispanic or Latino 17.2% 14.7% 8.9% 3.0%
American Indian/Alaska Native* 34.7% 24.2% 25.5% NA
Asian* 19.7% 16.1% 7.7% 1.7%
Native Hawaiian/Other Pacific Islander* NA NA NA NA
Multiple Race* 25.7% 22.3% 12.9% 4.1%
9th 17.7% 14.8% 9.4% 2.3%
10th 18.5% 15.4% 8.8% 2.7%
11th 19.3% 16.4% 8.6% 2.3%
12th 19.6% 16.2% 8.5% 2.7%
Sexual identity
Heterosexual 14.5% 12.1% 6.4% 1.7%
Gay, lesbian, bisexual 46.8% 40.2% 23.4% 6.3%
Not sure 30.4% 23.9% 16.1% 5.2%

*Excludes persons of Hispanic ethnicity. Persons of Hispanic ethnicity can be any race.
NA: Too few respondents to develop a reliable estimate.
Notes: The reference period for each question was 12 months prior to the survey.
YRBSS question wording:
Did you seriously consider attempting suicide?
Did you make a plan about how you would attempt suicide?
How many times did you actually attempt suicide?
Did any attempt result in an injury, poisoning, or overdose that had to be treated by a doctor or nurse?

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  • Overall, about 1 in 5 (18.8%) of high school students considered committing suicide in 2019 and about 1 in 11 (8.9%) of high school students attempted suicide.
  • Black high school students were less likely to have considered suicide than white students, but more likely to have attempted suicide than white students; white youth were less likely than American Indian/Alaskan Native and multi-racial youth to have considered or attempted suicide.
  • The proportion of high school students reporting suicide-related behaviors did not vary by grade in 2019.
  • Students who identify as heterosexual were significantly less likely to report suicide-related behaviors than students who identify as gay, lesbian, and bisexual, and those who are not sure of their sexual orientation.

Internet citation: OJJDP Statistical Briefing Book. Online. Available: https://www.ojjdp.gov/ojstatbb/victims/qa02710.asp?qaDate=2019. Released on September 21, 2020.

Data Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). 1991-2019 High School Youth Risk Behavior Survey Data. Available at https://nccd.cdc.gov/youthonline/. Accessed August 2020.

The national Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS) monitors priority health risk behaviors that contribute to the leading causes of death, disability, and social problems among youth and adults in the United States. The national YRBS is conducted every two years and provides data representative of 9th through 12th grade students in public and private schools throughout the United States.


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