Suicide is becoming more common in the U.S., an increase most pronounced in rural areas. Researchers at Ohio State University, Columbus, evaluated national suicide data since 1999, and provided a county-by-county national picture of the suicide toll among adults.
Suicide rates are highest in less-populous counties and in areas where people have lower incomes and fewer resources. The suicide rates are 17.6 per 100,000 in large metropolitan counties, compared with 22 per 100,000 in rural counties.
In urban areas, counties with more gun shops tend to have higher suicide rates. Counties with the highest suicide rates mostly are in Western states (Colorado, New Mexico, Utah, and Wyoming); Appalachian states (Kentucky, Virginia, and West Virginia); and in the Ozarks (Arkansas and Missouri).
"While our findings are disheartening, we're hopeful that they will help guide efforts to support Americans who are struggling, especially in rural areas where suicide has increased the most and the fastest," says lead researcher Danielle Steelesmith, a postdoctoral fellow at OSU's Medical Center.
The study included suicides by adults 25-64 years old. Suicides are most common among men and those 45 to 54 years old.
A factor related to increased suicide rates, particularly in rural areas, is "deprivation," a cluster of factors that...