Suicide is on the rise in the United States, especially in rural areas of the country. The findings of a study from Ohio State University found an astonishing rise in suicide rates for adults age 25-64. The study noted key factors such as lack of insurance and availability of guns that may have contributed to the rise.
The study evaluated nationwide suicide data from 1999-2016 among adults age 25-64. Researchers created a county-by-county estimation of suicide rates. During that time period, suicide rates climbed by 41% from a rate of 15 suicides per 100,000 residents in 1999 to a rate of 21.2 suicides per 100,000 residents in the last three years of the study. Suicide rates were higher in less populous counties and areas where there were lower incomes and diminished access to resources. From 2014-2016, the suicide rates were considerably lower in large metropolitan counties than they were in rural counties.
The highest suicide rates were concentrated mostly in Western states. The highest rates were found in Colorado, New Mexico, Utah, and Wyoming. Rural counties in Kentucky, Virginia, and West Virginia also had very high suicide rates.
Researchers hope that the findings of their study will help narrow the focus of where suicide prevention help is most needed. The study helps highlight some of the factors that contribute to suicide rates, including a lack of resources and access to guns. The hope is that the study results can help drive further efforts toward assisting people in crisis in getting the help they need.
In 2015, a nationwide prevention initiative was started in an effort to reduce the rate of suicides by 20% by 2025. Given the rise in suicide rates, it doesn't appear that the goal is attainable. However, the patterns and trends uncovered in the Ohio State study could be used to help shape future suicide prevention initiatives. Providing better access to mental health resources in rural counties could go a long way toward helping alleviate the problem.
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