Suicide rates climbing, especially in rural America

Suicide rates climbing, especially in rural America
These maps show the increasing rates of suicide and the concentration of suicides in rural counties over time. Credit: Ohio State University

Suicide is becoming more common in America, an increase most pronounced in rural areas, new research has found.

The study, which appears online today (Sept. 6, 2019) in the journal JAMA Network Open, also highlights a cluster of factors, including lack of insurance and the prevalence of gun shops, that are associated with high .

Researchers at The Ohio State University evaluated national data from 1999 to 2016, and provided a county-by-county national picture of the suicide toll among adults. Suicide rates jumped 41 percent, from a median of 15 per 100,000 county residents in the first part of the study to 21.2 per 100,000 in the last three years of the analysis.

Suicide rates were highest in less-populous counties and in areas where people have lower incomes and fewer resources. From 2014 through 2016, suicide rates were 17.6 per 100,000 in large metropolitan counties compared with 22 per 100,000 in rural counties.

In urban areas, counties with more gun shops tended to have higher suicide rates. Counties with the highest suicide rates were mostly in Western states, including Colorado, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming; in Appalachian states including Kentucky, Virginia and West Virginia; and in the Ozarks, including Arkansas and Missouri.

"While our findings are disheartening, we're hopeful that they will help guide efforts to support Americans who are struggling, especially in rural areas where suicide has increased the most and the fastest," said lead researcher Danielle Steelesmith, a postdoctoral fellow at Ohio State's Wexner Medical Center.

"Suicide is so complex, and many factors contribute, but this research helps us understand the toll and some of the potential contributing influences based on geography, and that could drive better efforts to prevent these deaths."

Suicide rates are trending higher despite a national prevention effort that kicked off in 2015 with the goal of reducing suicide rates 20 percent by 2025. Another recent analysis found that suicide rates in almost 90 percent of U.S. counties increased more than 20 percent from 2005 to 2015.

The new study included 453,577 suicides by adults 25 to 64 years old from 1996 to 2016. Suicides were most common among men and those 45 to 54 years old.

Suicide prevention can be bolstered with this new information about trends and patterns of suicide, said Cynthia Fontanella, a study co-author and associate professor of psychiatry and behavioral health at Ohio State.

"For example, all communities might benefit from strategies that enhance coping and problem-solving skills, strengthen economic support and identify and support those who are at risk for suicide," Fontanella said.

"The data showing that suicides were higher in counties with more gun shops—specifically in —highlights the potential to reduce access to methods of suicide that can increase the chances an at-risk person will die."

Another factor related to increased suicide rates, particularly in rural areas, was "deprivation," a cluster of factors including underemployment, poverty and low educational attainment.

Long-term and persistent poverty may be more entrenched and the economic opportunities for individuals more limited in , Steelesmith said, adding that many rural Americans rely on jobs in agriculture and industries including coal mining.

"In cities, you have a core of services that are much easier to get to in many cases. You may have better access to job assistance, food banks and nonprofits that might all contribute to less desperation among residents," Steelesmith said.

High social fragmentation—which factors in levels of single-person households, unmarried residents and the impermanence of residents—was associated with higher suicide rates, as was low social capital, a measure of the interconnectedness of people in an area. Both of these were particularly pronounced in rural America.

Other factors associated with higher suicide rates included high percentages of veterans in a county and lower rates of insurance coverage.

Fontanella said that people who live in rural America might particularly benefit from strategies to promote social connections through community engagement activities that offer opportunities for residents to interact and to become familiar with supportive resources in their area.

Steelesmith said it's important to note that county-by-county geographical information on suicide doesn't tell the whole story. Some states, particularly in the West, have large counties with great variability in terms of resident life experiences, for instance. This work also excludes data on suicides by young and elderly Americans.

Explore further

Study examines suicide ideation, planning and attempts

More information: JAMA Network Open (2019). DOI: 10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2019.10936
Journal information: JAMA Network Open

Citation: Suicide rates climbing, especially in rural America (2019, September 6) retrieved 22 September 2019 from
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Sep 06, 2019
All humans have choices to do with their body as they so choose. Those with a weak or weakened will to live most often have a poor opinion and regard for themselves and their environment.
And, there are those humans who would help to hasten the death/demise of these poor weak-willed humans, with 'assisted suicides'.

There are also those who are, and have, intended suicide due to hearing about "Global Warming (AGW) and how everyone will be dead in 20 years or less. Liberal/Socialists are responsible for spreading that around, and for which certain types of humans take it to heart, thinking that if they are going to be dead or dying within the time that Leftist/Socialists and Climate Scientists are claiming, then these mentally unbalanced humans will do it sooner.

Sep 06, 2019
We know that poverty and lack of access to health care and social isolation are all associated with higher rates of suicide and indeed the crisis in rural America is generally more about how the social fabric is fraying or being destroyed by all kinds of factors than specifically about suicide.
So increased rates of suicide - appears to be a complex issue. But the Conservatives with tourette's syndrome just cant help themselves. It is because of liberal/socialists - and someone telling them about the science of climate change. FFS


Sep 06, 2019

The secret of it all is in farming. Who produces corn? Wheat? Hay? Farmers? No plants do that. Bees produce honey, etc. Our free market system is merely an approximation of nature, we pay the farmer to nurture cultivate and protect these life forms so we can enjoy their sweet products.

Sep 06, 2019
but I can't finish my thought because my post was ruled too long. Who decided Donald Trump's tweets are a great format for science, and comments have to be limited in length? As such, you are the king of the format, SEU, I defer to you. Clearly, nothing requiring many words is worth saying.

Sep 07, 2019
When macro observations reveal you're clinging to legitimacy in a society nature has selected for extinction? It's time for this:

This dead man is currently floating around the cosmos in a Tesla that will collide with the earth in 100,000 years. Are you really ready for what's to come? It asks a great deal of all of us...

Sep 07, 2019
Nyaah, it's the guns and gun-shops fault.

Next it'll be fire extinguishers. Remember air bags ...

Sep 07, 2019
The US ranks a close fourth amongst the world's most charitable countries. Yet, you let this happen to your own. Astonishing isn't it? Then again, maybe not.
Wake up people.

Sep 07, 2019
The US ranks a close fourth amongst the world's most charitable countries
That has nothing to do with suicide rates. More rubbish from goracle.
The study identified poverty, the presence of gun shops, poor access to health insurance, social fragmentation and high numbers of veterans as factors contributing to the higher rates among rural residents.

Yet, you let this happen to your own. Astonishing isn't it? Then again, maybe not
Well is it, or isn't it? I think it is not astonishing. I think that it is to be expected - when you build a culture on greed and selfishness. We have just elected 'organized crime boss in chief' as the great savior. Read 'House of Trump, House of Putin' if you want to see what I am talking about. Criminal behavior becomes the norm. No wonder so many are so hopeless.

Sep 07, 2019
Wow. You are, really that stupid.

Sep 07, 2019
Wow. You are, really that stupid
I'm actually reasonably smart. I have attended about 5 different colleges - all pretty b grade colleges - but I tend to run close to a 4.0 average. My profs usually say they think I am pretty bright - and have good reasoning skills. But so what? How does putting this up as a comment on a science site
Wow. You are, really that stupid
- with absolutely no thought process attached to it - make you smart? My point was that the generosity index for the U.S. - has nothing to do with suicide rates - so that bone headed comment makes you a chump. What's your point - genius?

Sep 07, 2019
So, charity cannot help alleviate the social, financial and health situation of these people? Because that's exactly what they state it is doing for those in the cities.
But, why should I expect that observation from an idiot, who believes himself intelligent, because of the charitable words from his overly generous profs.

Sep 07, 2019
Because that's exactly what they state it is doing for those in the cities
They said lot's of things may help alleviate the social, financial an health situation of these people. They listed poverty, gun shops, 'deprivation' underemployment, low education attainment etc. etc. as contributing causes to this high suicide rate. So tell us goracle - if as you say
The US ranks a close fourth amongst the world's most charitable countries
How come we have such high suicide rates? I mean your premise is that suicide rates are reduced by 'charity.' Show us the data goracle. Maybe as these authors suggest - we have to dig real deep find the causes and solutions to these issues. And charity aint it.

Sep 07, 2019
In cities, you have a core of services that are much easier to get to in many cases. You may have better access to job assistance, food banks and nonprofits that might all contribute to less desperation among residents

There you go jackass. Get someone who speaks stupid to read and explain how the above relates to charity.


Sep 08, 2019
explain how the above relates to charity.
I guess you missed my question. i'll rephrase it. If the U.S. has such high rates of 'charity' - and 'charity' is the solution to suicide - how come the U.S has high rates of suicide?

Now I'll answer for you. The article talks about multiple factors that seem to be contributing to this suicide problem - such as poverty, education, employment, social fragmentation etc. etc. etc. It says that cities may have better services available that may help. So you cherrypicking one issue 'charity' - when of course these multiple factors - will be addressed by multiple solutions - like better education/jobs/economics etc. etc. etc. - makes you - wait for it - a Conservative. Someone who thinks one word can answer all ills. A dim bulb.

I hope so....

Something a lot of people don't realize is that in men especially, depression often manifests as anger instead of sadness. Given the rise in popularity of hate groups, I wonder how many are driven to them by depression manifesting as anger?

There is also a lot society can and should do for these people to help them out of the pit of despair. Many could be re-trained to work in the solar and wind industry. Others probably have the brain power but not the money to go to college. Programs to help those who to resettle near urban areas. New safe, green, urban areas could be created inland for relocation of people whose homes are regularly destroyed by hurricanes, fire and flooding. We could also do away with the stupid and callous idea of social Darwinism, specifically the idea that if you can't get rich, you are trash.

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