Friday, June 15, 2012

Rural youth commit suicide twice as often as their urban counterparts; 'gun culture' blamed

Rural Americans between the ages of 10 and 24 are twice as likely as their urban counterparts to commit suicide, reports Brian Resnick for The Atlantic. "And while youth suicides have declined across the country in recent years, suicide rates in sparsely populated areas have remained steady." Resnick writes that while it is hard to pinpoint exactly why there is such a disparity -- access to mental health treatments is a major contributor -- one reason clinicians are giving for the decided difference "may be tied to gun culture."

According to a recently published survey of Midwestern mental health clinicians, "one of the challenges rural therapists face is telling parents of troubled youths to lock up their guns." The Midwestern counselors in the survey "agreed that nearly everyone owned and used guns, and said that in a lot of their clients' homes, guns were so commonplace that they became part of the furniture." As a result, the clinicians made a point of saying that parents in rural areas often need to be reminded that guns are involved in half of all youth suicides, and that having them in the home makes it easier for young people to end their lives.

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