Fund research on black youth mental health and suicide

Prevention, Early Intervention, & Youth
Research & Technology
social determinants of health
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Black/African American
Coverage & Standards
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Federal department
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house committees
House Appropriations Committee
senate committees
Senate Appropriations Committee


Congress should appropriate additional funding to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the National Institute on Mental Health (NIMH) to fund additional research on Black youth mental health and suicide.[1]


According to a report from the Congressional Black Caucus, the suicide death rate among Black youth is increasing faster than any other racial/ethnic group.[1] From 2000 to 2020, Black youth ages 10-19 also experienced the largest increase in suicide rates, 78 percent. And in a research study among the youngest children — ages 5-12 — Black youth were approximately two times more likely to die by suicide than their White counterparts.[2]

Historically, a small amount of research funding has been committed by the NIH, and specifically the NIMH, to investigate Black youth mental health and suicide increases.[1] In response to the growing concern over Black youth suicide, in June 2020 the NIMH released a notice of special interest to encourage research focused on Black child and adolescent suicide.[3] The notice outlines a number of research areas that could receive funding, including: epidemiology, etiology, and trajectories; intervention and services research; preventive interventions; treatment interventions; and services interventions.[3] This was followed by a Funding Opportunity Announcment (FOA) released in March 2022 with the aim to advance translational research to better understand factors that confer risk and resilience for suicide among Black youth.[4]

Continued investment in this space is needed. Congressional appropriators should provide NIH/NIMH with the resources they need to continue to fund research on Black youth suicide. Research areas of focus should include, but not be limited to:

  • Risk and protective factors for suicidal behaviors among Black youth;
  • Mental health motivation, utilization, and engagement among Black youth with an emphasis on examining motivation for mental health treatment;
  • Risk and protective factors, as well as mental health utilization and engagement, among Black LGBTQ+/SGL (same gender loving) youth;
  • Practical, systemic, and cultural barriers to treatment; the effectiveness of depression screenings by professionals across healthcare professions and institutions for helping to identify Black youth at risk for suicide;
  • The effect of social media usage on Black youth; and
  • Evidence-based interventions relating to mental health and suicide risk; in particular, those that are age-appropriate and culturally and linguistically relevant for Black youth.[1]


1. Congressional Black Caucus. Ring the Alarm: The Crisis of Black Youth Suicide in America - Executive Summary. Last Updated December 2019.

2. Sheftall, Arielle H. The Tragedy of Black Youth Suicide. Association of American Medical Colleges. Last Updated April 11, 2023.

3. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, National Institute of Health, National Institute of Mental Health. Notice of Special Interest (NOSI) in Research on Risk and Prevention of Black Youth Suicide. Last Accessed July 27, 2023.

4. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, National Institute of Health, National Institute of Mental Health. Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA): Understanding Suicide Risk and Protective Factors among Black Youth. Last Accessed July 27, 2023.