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Report: Americans in rural areas more likely to die by suicide

Rural counties consistently had higher suicide rates than metropolitan counties from 2001-2015, according to data released in the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

“While we’ve seen many causes of death come down in recent years, suicide rates have increased more than 20 percent from 2001 to 2015,” the CDC said in a statement. “And this is especially concerning in rural areas.”

Overall, suicide death rates for rural counties (17.32 per 100,000 people) were higher than medium/small metropolitan counties (14.86) and large metropolitan counties (11.92).

“The trends in suicide rates by sex, race, ethnicity, age, and mechanism that we see in the general population are magnified in rural areas,” said James A. Mercy, Ph.D., director of CDC’s Division of Violence Prevention.

“This report underscores the need for suicide prevention strategies that are tailored specifically for these communities,” he said in a statement.

Additional findings from the CDC study:

■ Across metropolitan and rural areas, suicide rates for males were four to five times higher than for females during the study period.

■ Suicide rates for black non-Hispanics in rural areas were consistently lower than suicide rates for black non-Hispanics in urban areas.

■ White non-Hispanics have the highest suicide rates in metropolitan counties while American Indian/Alaska native non-Hispanics have the highest rates in rural counties.

■ Findings by age group revealed increases in suicide rates for all ages with the highest rates and greatest rate increases in rural counties.

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