Suicide Rate For Rural Youth Double That For City Kids
American suicide rates are on the rise. In 2013, the latest year for which data is available, there were more than 41,000 suicides – the highest rate since 1987.
Those increases include a rise in suicides among teens and adolescents, and new research shows that kids between the ages of 10 and 24 who live in rural areas have double the suicide rate of their counterparts in cities.
The findings come from an Ohio State University study published recently in the journal JAMA Pediatrics.
Dr. John Campo is senior author of the study and the psychiatry chair of OSU’s Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Health.
“Only accidents kill more people in that age group,” he tells Here & Now’s Robin Young.
He sites the issue of social isolation as one of the problems. One hypothesis was that access to firearms may be a reason for the increase in rural areas.
“We wondered about whether part of the issue may have been related to guns and access to guns,” said Campo. “What we found though was if we looked at all of the different methods of suicide, the risk of suicide was greater in rural versus urban settings regardless of the method chosen.”
Nonetheless, some of Campo’s colleagues still believe that easy access to firearms is a major problems for suicide numbers.
“Half of suicides happen with a firearm,” Campo said. “If you attempt to poison yourself, you certainly can end yourself that way, but the likelihood drops dramatically.”
But what should rural areas do about these numbers? Campo thinks de-stigmatizing issues like depression and addictions is key.
“I don’t think it’s going to be as simple as a quantitative solution,” he said, adding that simply increasing the number of treatment facilities and health professionals won’t solve the problem.
Among several recommendations, Campo suggested finding ways to curb access to firearms – especially for those in rural communities.
- Resources: You can reach the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or find other services through the National Alliance on Mental Illness.
- Dr. John Campo, chair of psychiatry in OSU’s department of psychiatry and behavioral health.
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