Rural Youth Suicide Close to
Double Urban Rate

Third Leading Cause of Death for Adolescents

Suicide is the third leading cause of death for adolescents aged 10 to 24 and results in approximately 4,600 lives lost every year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The rate of suicides for youth living in rural areas is almost double the rate for youth living in urban areas. 

That’s what a new study by researchers at the Wexner Medical Center in Ohio found, according to a report. The study, titled “Widening Rural-Urban Disparities in Youth Suicides,” was published online in the Journal of the American Medical Association of Pediatrics on March 9.

The lead author of the study notes that rural areas need to be targeted for primary prevention of suicide. For the study, researchers analyzed National Center for Health Statistics mortality data for adolescents aged 10 to 24, from 1996 through 2010. The study found that 66,596 youth (male and female) died from suicide during that time, and that the rate of suicide among rural residents was almost twice the rate of young people who lived in urban areas.

Researchers speculated that there may be higher suicide rate in rural areas because of barriers or limited access to mental health care, social and geographical isolation, socio-economic factors, and a disproportionate stigma associated with mental illness in rural areas.

The study makes some suggestions for intervention: integrated care, use of health practitioners within a primary care setting, telemedicine, and school-based intervention.


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