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Suicide rate up 41 percent, particularly in rural areas, study says

The states with the highest rates included Arkansas, Colorado, Missouri, New Mexico, Utah, Virginia, West Virginia and Wyoming, Ohio State University researchers report.

By
Tauren Dyson
Since 2000, the states with the highest suicide rates include Arkansas, Colorado, Missouri, New Mexico, Utah, Virginia, West Virginia and Wyoming, new research shows. File Photo by hikrcn/Shutterstock
Since 2000, the states with the highest suicide rates include Arkansas, Colorado, Missouri, New Mexico, Utah, Virginia, West Virginia and Wyoming, new research shows. File Photo by hikrcn/Shutterstock

Sept. 9 (UPI) -- Suicides have gone up by 41 percent since the beginning of the millennium, with a particularly high spike in rural counties, a new study shows.

The states with the highest rates included Arkansas, Colorado, Missouri, New Mexico, Utah, Virginia, West Virginia and Wyoming, according to findings published Friday in JAMA Network Open.

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"Suicide is so complex, and many factors contribute, but this research helps us understand the toll and some of the potential contributing influences based on geography, and that could drive better efforts to prevent these deaths," Danielle Steelesmith, a postdoctoral fellow at Ohio State University and study lead researcher, said in a news release.

The researchers analyzed data on all 453,577 suicides that occurred between 1999 and 2016 for people between ages 25 and 64, which was collected from National Center for Health Statistics National Vital Statistics System.

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Over the course of the 17-year period,, the rate of suicide rose from 15 per 100,000 county residents to 21.2 per 100,000. Between 2014 and 2016, the rate in urban counties was 17.6 per 100,000 versus 22 per 100,000 in rural counties.

Suicide rates were most common in counties with small populations and lower incomes, researchers found.

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To curb what has been an increasing suicide rate, the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention in 2015 launched Project 2025, a program designed to reduce suicides by 20 percent by 2025.

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"In cities, you have a core of services that are much easier to get to in many cases," Steelesmith said. "You may have better access to job assistance, food banks and nonprofits that might all contribute to less desperation among residents."

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