Suicide By Gun Is On A Shocking Rise, Especially in Rural Counties

According to new data from the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the suicide rate in the US rose more than 40 percent between 1999 and 2016. Actually, the CDC says that a surprising majority of the 40,000 gun deaths reported in 2017 were suicides. Perhaps more important than this simple data, the authors of a new report based on this data say that those who are at highest risk for suicide have quite a bit in common. 

For one, the data shows that males have higher suicide rates. In addition, Western states and rural areas appear to be most afflicted.  Also, cities where there is at least one gun shop (or other legitimate means for purchasing a gun) seem to be at a notably higher risk.  

Study co-author Danielle Steelesmith adds, “We found several health-related variables, but we found being uninsured did increase suicide rates.”  The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center researcher goes on to say, “We think it’s related to accessibility. People who don’t have insurance likely can’t afford to seek out the kind of help they need or they may not even know where to look for help, especially in rural areas.”

To determine these links, the study authors analyzed 453,577 adult suicides, which took place between 1996 and 2016. These adults were between the ages of 25 and 64 at the time.  The researchers had determined that the suicide rate did, in fact, jump by nearly 50 percent in a 15 year span.  Between 1999 and 2001, the suicide rate was about 15 per 100,000 county residents; in the 2014 to 2016 period that number jumped to more than 21 per 100,000 county residents. 

The counties with the highest suicide rates in the country were located in Utah, Colorado, Wyoming, and New Mexico.  Suicides were also, apparently, quite high in Appalachian states, including Virginia, West Virginia, Arkansas, Missouri, and Kentucky.

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