Top 10 Causes of Death for Americans Ages 15-24

U.S. Mortality Causes and Prevention Methods

The causes of death among people ages 15 to 24 in the United States are either largely preventable or congenital. Regardless of this, far too many young people die prematurely. These are the top causes of death for people aged 15 to 24, plus prevention methods for each.


A car accident.
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Accidents account for 46 percent of deaths among people in the 15-24 age group. Motor vehicle accidents alone account for a third of all deaths.

To protect yourself, wear your seat belt, drive defensively and avoid risky behaviors that may lead to accidents.


Acts of violence
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Fifteen percent of deaths among people age 15-24 are death by homicide. In 2011, 68 percent of all homicides against people of all age groups in the U.S. were committed with firearms, and gun violence is more common in urban and poor communities.

Unfortunately, you cannot necessarily control where you live or what other people do. However, you can do your best to protect yourself by avoiding dangerous and confrontational situations and seeking help for domestic violence.


Depressed man
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Suicide accounts for 13 percent of deaths among people of this age group. Sadly, most people who commit suicide feel like it is their only way out of a helpless feeling situation.

However, there are many resources for people with suicidal thoughts. If you are struggling with depression or other mental illnesses, seek help. With the help of therapy and medications, you can find that life is worth living. In fact, most people who attempt suicide say they regret it: The 29 people who survived a suicide attempt jumping off the Golden Gate Bridge say they regretted the decision the moment they jumped.

If you or someone you know is in crisis, call 1-800-273-TALK (8255) right away. This free hotline is available 24 hours a day.



Teenage cancer patientl Smiling
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Cancer deaths account for 5 percent of deaths among the 15-24 age group. Unfortunately, there is no proven way to prevent cancer, and this percentage includes many childhood cancers that are not preventable.​



Doctor in hospital using stethoscope on young patient
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Three percent of people who die when they are 15-24 die of heart disease. Exercise and a healthy diet can help to prevent and reverse heart disease, however, many young people who die of heart disease were born with it.


Congenital Conditions

Demonstration for AIDS Research
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Congenital illnesses, some inherited from parents, such as cystic fibrosis or maternally-transmitted HIV account for 1.5 percent of deaths among this age group. A healthy pregnancy can help prevent many of these conditions.​


Girl sleeping in a hospital
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While most people think of strokes as only occurring in older adults, they can occur in anyone at any age. Stroke is responsible for 0.6 percent of deaths among people ages 15-24.​

Exercise, not smoking, and having a healthy diet can help prevent stroke, however, the cause of strokes, even in people who are very healthy, often cannot be identified.



Girl with cold and flu
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You may not think that the flu or pneumonia is very dangerous if you are in your teens or early 20s, but 0.6 percent of deaths in the 15-24 age group are attributable to flu and pneumonia.

Get a flu vaccine every year and wash your hands regularly. Be sure to talk with your doctor about extra precautions to take if you have a compromised immune system due to illness or other reasons.



World AIDS Day Vigil And Walk Held In Florida's Broward County
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HIV/AIDS is responsible for 0.6 percent of deaths among those age 15-24. In this age group, HIV is often transmitted through pregnancy. However, protecting yourself is very important. For more information read HIV Prevention: A Plan to Reduce Risk.

Chronic Lower Respiratory Disease

Man Smoking in Public Space
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Chronic lower respiratory disease accounts for 0.5 percent of deaths in this age group. Reduce your risk by not smoking or quitting smoking.

Other causes account for 14 percent of deaths.


CDC NVSR 2006.

Firestone, L., Ph.D. (2010). Busting the Myths About Suicide. PsychAlive.

National Institute of Justice. (2013, April 4). Gun Violence.