Youth Homicide Rate Spikes To Highest Level In Two Decades

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Erinn Broadus Investigative Reporter
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The homicide rate among individuals ages 10 through 24 in 2021 reached its highest level in 20 years, according to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

In 2021, there were 10.7 homicides for every 100,000 people ages 10 through 24, up from 8.3 in 2016 and 7.3 in 2011, according to the CDC. Suicide and homicide are the second and third leading causes of death, respectively, for people ages 10 through 24, behind accidental deaths that involve motor vehicle crashes and falls, according to the CDC report.

The homicide rate for teenagers aged 15 through 19 increased to 12.8 in 2021, up from 8.6 in 2016 and 7.8 in 2011, according to the CDC. For individuals aged 20 through 24, the increase was even more notable: 18 homicides for every 100,000 people in 2021, compared to 15 in 2016 and 13 in 2011.

“We have a real crisis in terms of our behavioral health system in the United States,” said Stephen Woolfe, Director of the Center on Society and Health, to Axios. “We’re now at a point where the chances of a child becoming an adult are going down.”

For children ages 15 through 19, homicides nearly doubled between 2014 and 2021, eclipsing suicides for the first time since 2010. There were 12.3 homicides per 100,000 people in 2020 and 12.8 in 2021 for this age group.

The suicide rate for adults in their early twenties was the highest it’s been in 50 years, according to the Associated Press. Adults ages 20 though 24 saw a 9% increase in suicides from 2020 to 2021, the highest among the age groups, from 17.8 in 2020 to 19.4 in 2021. (RELATED: As Juvenile Crime Skyrockets To Record Levels, States Seek To Crack Down)

For all age groups, the largest uptick in homicides was from 2019 to 2020, with a 37% jump. The largest annual increase in suicide was between 2016 and 2017, with a 10% jump, according to the CDC.

Limited access to mental health treatment, increasing levels of depression and the impact of isolation during COVID are potential reasons for this increase in suicides and homicides among teens and young adults, according to the AP. This uptick “reflects a mental health crisis among young people and a need for a number of policy changes,” Woolfe said to AP.

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