Arizona's Total Child Deaths Go Down, but Homicides and Suicides Go Up

We just took a look at perhaps the most morbid report we've seen this year, with about 100 pages detailing how children died in Arizona in 2011.

The Arizona Child Fatality Review Program released its 19th annual report today, and it includes a whole lot of statistics and trends, including the fact that child deaths decreased from 2010 to 2011, but child suicides and homicides went up.

Last year, 837 kids died, which is a decrease from the 862 that died in 2010. Arizona Department of Health Services director Will Humble points out on his blog that child deaths in Arizona have decreased about 29 percent since 2005.

Suicides, though, haven't been on the decrease.

Thirty-nine kids took their own lives in 2011, up from 24 the year prior.

The most common suicide methods for kids (again, morbid) were hanging (62 percent) and firearm-related (23 percent).

"The objects used in hanging suicides were belts, ropes, strings and electrical cords," the report notes.

The youngest kid to commit suicide last year was just 7 years old, according to the report.

The report has several recommendations for preventing suicide, and several explanations of risk factors, so it's not that simple to explain away.

A recommendation for schools is that they "[e]ducate students on bullying, cyber-bullying, and other circumstances at school that may be risk factors for suicide."

Here, we'll point you to New Times' May story about the Center for Arizona Policy effectively killing anti-bullying legislation proposed at the state capitol due to blind homophobia (A Homophobic Group Killed Arizona's Anti-Bullying Law).

As for homicides, although the number increased from 2010 to 2011, there were still fewer homicides than there have been in prior years.

Forty-two kids were killed in 2011, compared to 36 in 2010.

Blunt-force trauma was the cause of death for more than half of the kids killed in 2011. Firearm injury (29 percent), suffocation (7 percent), sharp-force trauma (5 percent), undetermined (5 percent), and falling or being crushed (2 percent) followed.

The perpetrator of those homicides was the biological father in more than one-third of the cases. The kid's biological mother was the perpetrator in one case, according to the report.

The entire report can be found here.

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Matthew Hendley
Contact: Matthew Hendley