The suicide rate in the United States rose over 19% from 2001 to 2015, with an increasing gap separating rural areas from those with large urban populations, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Suicide rates in nonmetropolitan/rural counties for those aged 10 years and older have been consistently higher, and increased more, than those in large metropolitan counties, the CDC said.

The rate in nonmetro/rural counties rose from 15.5 per 100,000 population in 2001-2003 to 19.7 per 100,000 in 2013-2015, an increase of 27%. Medium/small metro counties had a similar 25% jump – the suicide rate climbed from 13.4 per 100,000 in 2001-2003 to 16.8 in 2013-2015. But counties with large metro populations saw a smaller 14% increase, with the rate rising from 11.2 to 12.7 over that time period, the CDC investigators reported (MMWR Surveill Summ. 2017 Oct 6;66[18]:1-16).

The trends for the two lower urbanization levels had similar patterns: increases from 2001 onward became significant accelerations in 2007 (nonmetro/rural) and 2008 (medium/small metro). Large metro counties, however, took a different path that involved significant decreases from 2001 to 2005, significant increases from 2005 to 2010, and then smaller increases after 2010 that were not significant, based on data from the National Vital Statistics System’s mortality data files.

The analysis of the 544,115 suicides committed during 2001-2015 used 3-year averages “to reduce the variability of a small number of observations in a particular period,” the investigators noted.


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