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Car Crashes, Homicide, Suicide Top Causes of Youth Deaths

Crashes, murder, suicide and accidents cause 71 percent of deaths between ages 10 and 24

TUESDAY, June 13 (HealthDay News) -- Risky behavior among U.S. high school students has dropped since 1991, but many teenagers smoke, drive after drinking and have sex without condoms, according to a report in the June 9 issue of the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

Danice K. Eaton, Ph.D., of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and colleagues analyzed the Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System survey results for healthy and risky behavior by high school students from October 2004 through January 2006.

Motor vehicle crashes (31 percent), homicide (15 percent), suicide (11 percent) and "unintentional injuries" (14 percent) caused 71 percent of all deaths in 10- to 24-year-olds. In the month before being surveyed, 43.3 percent of high school students had used alcohol, 20.2 percent had smoked marijuana, 9.9 percent had been driving after drinking and 18.5 percent had carried a weapon.

During the year before being surveyed, 8.4 percent had attempted suicide and nearly 36 percent had been in a physical fight. During 2005, 46.8 percent had had sexual intercourse, while 37.2 percent of those failed to use condoms during their most recent sexual encounter. During the same year, 23 percent had smoked cigarettes in the month before being surveyed and 13.1 percent were overweight.

"Since 1991, the prevalence of many health-risk behaviors among high school students nationwide has decreased," the authors write. "However, many high school students continue to engage in behaviors that place them at risk."

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