Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Rural residents are more likely than those in large cities to think about, plan and/or attempt suicide, study finds

Percentage of past year suicidal attempts by county type from 2010-2016 (University of Kentucky chart)
People in rural areas are much more likely to think about, plan and/or attempt suicide than people in large cities, according to a newly published study by the Rural and Underserved Health Research Center at the University of Kentucky. It analyzed responses from adults in the National Survey on Drug Use and Health in 2010-16, divided counties into three categories: non-metropolitan (any county outside a metropolitan statistical area), small metropolitan (up to 1 million people), and large metropolitan (more than 1 million). 

Suicide is one of the leading causes of death in the U.S., and the odds of someone in any county considering or attempting suicide didn't change much between 2010 and 2016. Rural residents have been especially susceptible to suicide in the past two decades: a recent Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report found that people in non-metropolitan areas were far more likely to die by suicide than their urban counterparts from 2001 to 2015.

The study also found that rural military veterans were less likely to consider or attempt suicide. The researchers weren't sure why, but theorized that people who had served longer in the military tended to have more education than their rural peers; higher education is associated with a lower risk of suicide. However, they also acknowledged that veterans were more likely to die after attempting suicide. So veterans who died by suicide couldn't be counted when assessing how many people in a county are suicidal, and data on suicide deaths is confidential, so the researchers can't access it.

The researchers recommend that policymakers develop and implement suicide prevention initiatives that meet the unique needs of rural residents.

No comments: