, Volume 23, Issue 4, pp 458-471

Implications of National Suicide Trends for Social Work Practice with Black Youth

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Although homicide is the leading cause of death for African-Americans aged 15–24, suicide is silently claiming the lives of many African-American youth, males in particular. Given the disproportionate number of African-American adolescents in many of the primary human service institutions, it is important to increase social workers’ understanding of the nature and trends in self-destructive behaviors of this population. This paper presents the descriptive epidemiological trend data on African-American adolescent suicide completion and parasuicidal behavior, reviews current explanatory hypotheses, highlights important risk and protective factors, and outlines several culturally-congruent practice guidelines for working with suicidal African-Americans adolescents.