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Suicide Rates Have Increased Across the Country, Especially in Rural Communities

February 07, 2018

Between 2001 and 2015, over 500,000 Americans died by suicide, but a recent report published by the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) finds that suicide rates are higher in certain parts of the country more than others.

In its report, the CDC found that suicide rates have increased 20 percent over the 14-year period, but that rates in rural areas were often higher than in urban communities.

The agency reviewed mortality data from the National Vital Statistics System (NVSS) to assess the country’s suicide rates. Overall, rates increased across rural counties, small and medium-sized metropolitan counties and large urban counties. Across all these geographic regions, suicide rates tended to be higher for men — about four to five times higher for this group than it was for women. However, rates also increased across all age groups regardless of location. Americans between the ages of 35 and 64 had the highest rates of suicide.

The CDC said suicide rates increased in rural areas irrespective of sex, race, ethnicity or age. In rural communities, suicide occurred at a rate of 17 per 100,000 people. In small and medium-sized metro areas, the rate was 15 per 100,000, while it was 12 per 100,000 in larger urban areas. It’s unclear why suicide rates are increasing in rural communities (and overall), but it could be due to economic issues, mental health issues and lack of access to care to address these health conditions.

Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the country, and as the CDC report indicates, the numbers aren’t headed in the right direction. More people are taking their own lives, which strongly suggests that more Americans need access to support and resources to help them deal with anxiety, depression, substance abuse and other challenges that may contribute to suicide. As the CDC said in its report, more needs to be done to target vulnerable populations, including those who live in rural communities.

“The trends in suicide rates by sex, race, ethnicity, age, and mechanism that we see in the general population are magnified in rural areas,” said James A. Mercy, Ph.D., director of CDC’s Division of Violence Prevention. “This report underscores the need for suicide prevention strategies that are tailored specifically for these communities.”

In Central Florida and across the state of Florida, there are several resources that can help, including the Suicide Prevention Resource Center, the Central Florida chapter of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention and the Mental Health Association of Central Florida. If you or someone you know has considered suicide, contact these organizations to get the support you need.

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline also is available to provide help 24 hours a day. The organization provides free and confidential support around-the-clock, so call 1-800-273-8255 if you are in crisis, need someone to talk to or need to be connected with a healthcare provider.

By making more Americans aware of these resources and by implementing targeted prevention strategies tailored to at-risk groups we may be able to prevent more people from dying by suicide and significantly reduce the 123 suicide deaths that occur every day in America.

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