Monday, September 09, 2019

Poverty, isolation, veterans, less insurance, more gun shops linked with increased rural suicide risk; see county-level data

Click here for an interactive map with county-level data
on suicide rates in 2014-16. (GateHouse Media map)
The U.S. suicide rate has increased between 1999 and 2016, especially in rural counties, according to a newly published study at Ohio State. Areas with higher suicide rates tend to have more gun shops, more veterans, and fewer people with health insurance.

Rural residents tend to be poorer, more socially isolated, less educated, less employed, and have less access to mental-health services, all of which contributes to higher suicide risk. The researchers measured social isolation in an interesting way: they created a social capital index by counting the number of charities, arts and nature facilities, beauty and barber shops, agents and managers, spectator sports, recreation sites, business and political organizations, civic and social associations, and religious organizations.

The researchers also say lack of health insurance is a major factor in suicide risk, and recommend improving rural insurance coverage and mental-health access to lower the risk. They also recommend allocating more services and support to rural veterans. Because gun shops were associated with higher suicide rates, they recommend study of restricting gun access as a suicide-prevention strategy.
Standardized suicide mortality rate, 2002-2004
Standardized suicide mortality rate, 2014-2016; rates higher than 1.0 represent a higher than average risk of suicide. (Ohio State maps; click the images to enlarge)


Andrew said...

Can you provide a new link to the county-by-county interactive map? This one takes you to an error message.

Heather Chapman said...

Hi Andrew, the link in the caption works for us. Here it is: