Suicide Rates Are Rising Faster outside U.S. Cities

April 07, 2017

News Type:  Weekly Spark, Weekly Spark News

CBS News

Suicide rates are higher in less urban areas of the U.S. than in more urban areas, and this gap appears to be widening. Researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) analyzed county-level data on suicide deaths from 1999 to 2015 and found that rates increased across all levels of urbanization, but rose more steeply in rural regions than in cities. The CDC released these findings in a recent report, which also discussed possible explanations for the trend and recommendations for how to address it. “Geographic disparities in suicide rates might be associated with suicide risk factors known to be highly prevalent in less urban areas, such as limited access to mental health care, made worse by shortages in behavioral health care providers in these areas, and greater social isolation,” the authors wrote. The economic recession and opioid epidemic, which have disproportionately affected less urban parts of the country, may also have played a role in increasing suicide rates, according to the authors. They proposed a comprehensive set of interventions to reverse the trend, such as increasing access to health care, promoting social connectedness, and strengthening socioeconomic supports to offset the effects of economic downturns.

Spark Extra! Read the full CDC report and a statement from the National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention.