More than 17,500 adolescents aged 10–19 die annually according to the National Vital Statistics System Mortality File collected by CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics in 2004. In general, mortality rates increase with age even within this narrow age range. For example, those aged 15–19 have a mortality rate more than three times higher than that of those aged 10–14 (see Figure 2-1). This higher rate is attributable largely to mortality among males—more than twice that among females in this age group. American Indian/Alaskan Native non-Hispanic and black non-Hispanic adolescents generally have the highest mortality rates, while Asian/Pacific Islander non-Hispanics have the lowest (see Table 2-2).
Deaths among adolescents are caused by injuries (unintentional, such as those due to motor vehicle crashes, and intentional, such as those due to suicide or homicide) and by natural causes (such as disease or a chronic health condition). Unintentional injury (the leading cause of mortality among adolescents), homicide, and suicide accounted for almost three-quarters of all deaths among adolescents aged 10–19 in 2004 (National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, 2007; see Figure 2-2). Unintentional injury was also one of the three leading causes of death among adults aged 35–54 in 2004; in contrast with adolescents, however, malignant neo