Survey shows rural residence, proliferation of gun shops, lack of insurance related to higher suicide rates
Higher density of gun shops, lack of health insurance and a larger population of veterans are associated with higher rates of adult suicide in the United States According to a new study by the University of Ohio, which reviews county-level data.
Deprivation and social fragmentation are also possible explanations for increased suicide rates, which are higher and increasing faster in rural cities, according to a study published online Friday by JAMA Network Open.
Researchers hope the results will be used to direct specific suicide prevention efforts, said Cynthia Fontanella, co-author and associate professor of psychiatry and behavioral health in Ohio.
"The findings suggest that increasing social connectivity, civic opportunity, health coverage and limiting access to lethal resources in communities have the potential to reduce suicide rates within the rural continuum," the study said. "Rural suicide rates are particularly susceptible to deprivation, suggesting that rural counties pose special challenges and merit targeted suicide prevention efforts."
The study examined 453,577 suicides between 1
In the first period, between 1999 and 2001, the average suicide rate was 15 per 100,000 people at the county level. In the recent period, between 2014 and 2016, there was a rate of 21.2 per 100,000 – a jump of 41%.
Men account for more than three-quarters of suicides.
The counties with the highest suicide rates are mostly in the western states, Appalachia and the Ozarks.
Researchers also calculate a "standardized mortality rate" for each U.S. district or county equivalent to compare the actual suicide rate with the estimated suicide rate. Counties with a ratio of more than 1 are considered an unnecessary risk of suicide.
Across the country, the highest risk for the three-year period 2014-2016 is established in the Alaska Wade Hampton Census (now Kusilwak). There was a ratio of 4.2. The lowest ratio, 0.56, was in Kings County, New York.
The states with the highest average death rates in the county are Montana, Utah, New Mexico, Nevada and Wyoming. Those with the lowest were New Jersey, Massachusetts, New York, Connecticut and Maryland.
In Illinois, the average county mortality rate is 2, which is 7.2% lower than the countywide average.
The mortality rate is lower in the Skala River Valley. Boone County is 1.2, Stevenson County is about 1.5, and Vinebago County is 1.4.
The Arms Association
The Arms Stores Association is the most significant in urban areas and is present in all types of cities, with the exception of the most rural, the study said.
Weapons were used in about half of all suicides in 2017, according to the Suicide Prevention Resource Center.
The study's researchers found no link between gun shops and suicide by methods other than firearms.
Jim Irvine is the president of the board of the Buckeye Firearms Association, which is also involved in suicide prevention efforts. He said he had not seen the report's data and noted that firearm suicides often lead to death, but are not necessarily used in most attempts.
"Suicide is a massive problem in our country and we have to deal with it. I welcome any study on the issue that helps us understand what's better and make some progress to reverse these trends and save lives." , Irvine said.
In addition to reducing access to lethal agents among people at risk, according to Fontenella, communities can benefit from improving coping and problem-solving skills and enhancing economic development, education and training, and the promotion of mental health physicians work in underserved areas and use the telemedicine network.
"Rural areas can also benefit from suicide prevention strategies that support social connection through community organizations and community engagement activities," she said.
The study also shows that higher social capital – measured by the number of several groups, such as charities, business, political, civic and religious organizations and opportunities for participation in art and recreation – is associated with reduced suicide rates.
Factors that do not show a relationship with the rate of suicide are the ratio of physicians to residents and psychiatrists to residents and the number of drinking establishments.
"We know we can prevent suicide," says Terry Russell, executive director of the Ohio National Alliance on Mental Illness.
If you or someone you know has thoughts of suicide, contact the National Suicide Prevention Line at 1-800-273-8255 / TALK (or 1-888-628-9454 for Spanish speakers).