Suicide rates in the U.S. are higher in rural areas than in cities, new CDC data shows. Photo by StockSnap/Pixabay
Aug. 19 (UPI) -- At increasing rates, Americans who live in rural areas are more likely to commit suicide than those who reside in cities, according to data released Wednesday by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
From 2000 to 2018, suicide rates in rural areas in the United States increased 48%, while in cities they grew by 34% over the same period, the agency data showed.
Compared to urban areas, researchers found that rural suicide rates are about 40% higher for men and 25% higher for women.
But the rise in suicide rates -- in rural areas and overall -- appears to coincide with an increase in the numbers of teens and young adults with mental health disorders, according to the American Psychological Association.
"Suicide has remained the 10th leading cause of death in the United States since 2008, with deaths due to firearms, suffocation, and poisoning representing the leading methods of suicide," the CDC researchers wrote.
Overall, the suicide rate across the country has increased in the last two decades -- to approximately 12 deaths per 100,000 people in the general population in 2018, from just over 10 per 100,000 in 2000, the agency said.
The findings are based on an analysis of data on deaths across the United States from the National Vital Statistics System.
In 2018, the suicide rate for men living in rural regions was 31 deaths per 100,000 people in the general population, while it was eight per 100,000 for women.
For those living in urban areas, the rate was 22 deaths per 100,000 people in the general population for men and six per 100,000 for women.
Between 2000 and 2018, the rate of suicide by suffocation among men living in rural areas more than doubled, to nine deaths per 100,000 in the general population from four per 100,000, according to the CDC.
Nationally, men were four times more likely to commit suicide than women, according to the agency.
In 2018, the firearm-related suicide rate among men living in rural areas was 63% higher -- 19 deaths versus 12 deaths per 100,000 people -- than it was for men living in cities, the data showed.
For males, firearms were the leading method in both rural and urban areas in 2018, and they were also the leading method for women living in rural areas, the data showed.
In 2018, the number of women who died by suicide with a firearm was 58% higher than it was in 2000, the CDC said.
"Sex and urban-rural disparities in methods of suicide may inform targeted suicide prevention strategies," agency researchers wrote.