plasms and heart disease—both physical chronic health conditions—were the cause of almost half of all deaths in adults (National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, 2007). Malignant neoplasms, heart disease, and congenital anomalies are the three leading natural causes of mortality among adolescents aged 15–19 and account for about 10 percent of deaths in this age group; they account for a higher proportion—20 percent—of deaths among younger adolescents, aged 10–14 (National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, 2007).
Homicide accounts for the high mortality rates among black non-Hispanic adolescents, whereas suicide and motor vehicle crashes are responsible for the high mortality rates among American Indian/Alaskan Native non-Hispanic adolescents; suicide rates are generally higher among non-Hispanic white than among non-Hispanic black adolescents. Much of the variation in mortality among racial and ethnic groups of adolescents has been shown to be related to differences in socioeconomic status. When analyses adjust adequately for the latter differences among individuals, families, and neighborhoods, the variations in mortality among racial and ethnic groups are much smaller, if not eliminated (Anderson et al., 1994; Gjelsvik, Zierler, and Blume, 2004).