According to a new study, teen suicide rates are twice as high in rural settings compared to cities. The study was published on March 9 in the online edition of the Journal of the American Medical Association of Pediatrics.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that suicide is the third most frequent cause of death among adolescents between the ages of 10 and 24. Approximately 4,600 teenagers decide each year to take their lives and are successful at doing it.
A team of scientists at the Wexner Medical Center in Ohio led by Cynthia Fontanella, a clinical assistant professor at the university, went through mortality statistics gathered by the National Center for Health Statistics. They studied the mortality rate between the years 1996 and 2010 among adolescents aged 10 to 24.
Findings showed that 66,596 teenagers killed themselves during the analyzed period. Researchers also found that suicide rates were almost twice as high in rural areas compared to urban areas.
According to the study, most suicides in rural areas were through the use of guns or by hanging. It seems that most suicidal male adolescents chose to end their lives with the help of a gun.
The results do not surprise Dr. Randy Auerbach, clinical research director for the child and adolescent psychiatry division at McLean Hospital in Belmont and an associate professor at Harvard Medical School. He stated that in the field of medical health, it is known that suicide rates have risen, especially among young people.
He explained that it is important to diagnose suicidal tendencies as early as possible because therapy is more effective when applied in the initial phases of the illness.
In regards to the purpose of the study, Fontanella made the following statement:
“We undertook this study, because these kinds of surveillance studies can really help us identify areas to target our primary prevention efforts. It’s clear that we really need to target rural areas for primary prevention of suicide, and the study results really confirm that.”
Further studies need to be conducted in order to determine the cause behind such high suicide rates among adolescents living in rural areas. Fontanella considers that some of the reasons are: limited access to mental health professionals, social and geographical isolation and the way mental illnesses are looked upon in rural areas“.
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