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Suicide rate for US youths twice as high in rural areas

The findings in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) Pediatrics analyzed the suiciderate from 1996 and 2010 and found the gap appears to be widening, with suicide becoming increasingly common in less populated areas and less frequent in cities.

The research also suggested guns were becoming less common as a method while hangings were on the rise among both males and females.

The data came from the National Center for Health Statistics National Vital Statistics System, and showed that between 1996 and 2010, 66,595 youths between ages 10 and 24 died by suicide in the United States.

Suicide was most common among males in rural areas, at a rate of nearly 20 per 100,000 people.

In cities, the suicide rate was half that — 10.31 per 100,000.

Among girls and young women, the suicide rate was lower but the same rural versus urban divide was seen: 4.40 per 100,000 females killed themselves in rural areas compared to 2.39 per 100,000 in cities.

The study found that the suicide rate for boys and young men was four times higher than for young females.

More than half of the deaths were by firearm, and 33.9 percent were by hanging.

Almost eight percent were poisoned and seven percent jumped from heights or in front of transportation.

The study did not delve into why rural suicides were higher, but researchers suggested access to care may be a factor.

“If a rural child is depressed, it’s much harder to get state-of-the-art care. And it’s especially difficult to receive psychotherapy in a rural area,” said senior author John Campo, chair of psychiatry and behavioral health at Wexner Medical Center.

Study authors urged a fresh push for mental health counseling in rural areas.

“These kinds of surveillance studies can really help us identify areas to target our prevention efforts, and it’s clear we need to target rural areas for primary prevention of suicide,” said lead author Cynthia Fontanella, clinical assistant professor of psychiatry and behavioral health at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center. – AFP



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