Friday, June 01, 2018

Suicide rates spiking in rural areas; map shows local data

U.S. suicide rates from 2005 to 2015. (Washington Post map)
A new study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that suicide rates are rising across the nation, but they're rising higher and faster in rural areas. The suicide rate has increased nationwide by more than 30 percent since 1999--or from 10.5 suicides per 100,000 in 1999 to 13.9 per 100,000 in 2016. Suicide rates in nearly half of rural counties increased by 30 percent or more over the same time period, but only 10 percent of the largest urban counties saw a similiar rate of increase.

The Washington Post created an animated, county-level map that shows the suicide rate in all U.S. counties from 2005 to 2015. The map shows "considerable regional variation that gets missed in state-level suicide figures," Christopher Ingraham reports for the Post. "Suicide rates in northern Florida and California, for instance, are considerably higher than in the southern parts of those states. Across the Deep South, counties with high proportions of black residents have lower rates of suicide than surrounding areas. Suicide rates tend to be lower in counties with large Hispanic populations and higher in counties with large Native American populations."

Research has already shown that particularly high suicide rates in rural mountain areas of western states are caused by factors such as easy access to guns, high rates of drinking and drug use, econonic conditions, and "a culture of self-reliance that deters some people from seeking help in times of crisis," Ingraham reports."

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