Suicide Rate Rising Faster in Less Urban Areas

HealthDay News — Although the US suicide rate has been rising gradually since 2000, suicides in less urban areas are outpacing those in more urban areas, according to research published in The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

Researchers analyzed annual county-level data on mortality and population. They broke the information down into 6 classification levels, including large, medium, and small metropolitan areas; towns and cities that weren’t considered a part of a metropolitan area; and rural regions. At the beginning of the study period, rates were lowest for the more urban counties and highest for the less urban counties, and this gap that widened over time.

The investigators found that about 600,000 U.S. residents died by suicide from 1999 to 2015. The highest annual suicide rate occurred in 2015. Suicide by hanging went up notably during the study period. The rate of non-firearm suicide, particularly from suffocation — which includes hanging — went up more than the increase in gun-related suicides. Rates of suicide were approximately four times higher among males versus females. By age, the highest suicide rates were among 35- to 64-year-olds, and people 75 and older.

Whites and American Indian/Alaska Natives had the highest rates of suicide. They also had the sharpest increases during the study period. For whites, the rate jumped from 14.9 to 18.1 per 100,000 people. For American Indian/Alaska Natives, the suicide rate went from 15.8 up to 20.0 per 100,000 people. Suicide rates for blacks and Hispanics were much lower. These rates increased only modestly from 1999 to 2015, according to the report.

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Kegler SR, Stone DM, Holland KM. Trends in Suicide by Level of Urbanization — United States, 1999–2015. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep 2017;66:270–273. doi: