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Suicide in Rural Areas

The suicide rate is nearly twice as great in the most rural areas of the U.S. compared to the most urban areas (18.9 per 100,000 people in rural areas vs. 13.2 per 100,000 people in urban areas). This difference in suicide rates between rural and urban areas has widened from 1999 to 2019, increasing 50% in rural areas compared to 31% in urban areas. In some states, the suicide rate in rural areas continues to rise whereas in urban areas it has remained stable (CDC, via WISQARS, as of July 21, 2021).

Suicide varies significantly by gender in rural areas. Men who live in rural areas are at greater risk of suicide than men who live in urban areas. The rate of suicide among men in rural areas is 30.6 per 100,000 people compared to 21.0 per 100,000 people among men in urban areas. Though the rate of suicide among women in rural areas is much lower than among men, it is significantly higher than women in urban areas (7.3 vs. 5.8 per 100,000 people).

Age also factors into suicide risk in rural areas. Middle age has generally been identified as a time of high risk for suicide. However, in rural areas, younger men in their 20s and 30s experience higher suicide rates than middle aged men. At greatest risk are men age 85 and above, among which the suicide rate is 60.2 per 100,000 people. Among rural women, the rate is highest among those age 45-49 (13.7 per 100,000 people) and does not show the same significant peak among older adults. The rate of suicide among rural youth age 15-19 is 54% higher that of their urban counterparts (15.8 vs. 9.1 per 100,000 people) and increased 74% over the past 12 years.