Friday, July 29, 2016

Suicide rates on the rise among rural residents 45-64; economy, isolation cited as main reasons

Suicide rates among rural Americans 45 to 64 rose dramatically from 1999 to 2014, Allison Schrager reports for Quartz, which is owned by Atlantic Media Co. publisher of The Atlantic. Suicide rates among men in rural areas increased from 1999 to 2014 by 57.5 percent, highest among geographic categories. Suicide rates among women increased 91.2 percent, and 96.6 percent in "micropolitan" areas with towns of 10,000 to 50,000.

“It’s a fairly similar story for women, who, it is worth noting, have historically had much lower suicide rates,” Schrager writes. “They still do—in 2014, middle-age men were more than three times as likely to die from suicide—but the gap is narrowing a bit. The suicide rate among rural, middle-age women has nearly doubled since 1999.”
“The disproportionate increase in suicides in rural areas could have something to do with economic sectors,” Schrager writes. “Certain jobs normally found in rural areas traditionally have higher suicide rates, like farming, fishing, and logging. Some speculate that the chemicals farmers are exposed to contribute to depression. Suicide is more common in communities where people are more isolated, and where there’s less access to mental health services. Rural areas also have higher rates of drug addiction. But the big, glaring reason for the uptick seems to be economics. Rural communities have faced a long economic decline alongside the surge in suicide rates.”

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