Based in research by Nestadt, Paul S., Triplett, P., Fowler, D. R., & Mojtabai, Ramin. (2017). written by Bethany Wellman, M.S.
Suicide is the 4th leading cause of death in the U.S. Firearms account for 51% of suicides in 2016. Suicide rates are higher in rural areas at 19 per 100,000 people versus urban areas, at 11 per 100,000 people.
To assess what explains rural/urban differences in suicide rates, Johns Hopkins researchers analyzed 6000 adult suicide cases in Maryland from 2003 to 2015. They classified each case by the county of residence and urban or rural, sex, age, race, and method of suicide.
These results indicate that suicide rates were higher in rural compared with urban counties. The higher rural suicide rates were limited to firearm suicides. Non-firearm suicide rates were not significantly higher. This held only for white men, and 89% of firearm suicides were by men. Women were significantly less likely to complete suicide in rural as well as urban areas regardless of method.
Overall, rural men are more likely to own firearms, that are the weapons of choice to commit suicide. Thus, men have greater availability of firearms, driving the increased rate of firearm related suicide in rural areas. To decrease suicide rates, findings suggest the need for having more firearm safety and control in rural areas.
Nestadt, P. S., Triplett, P., Fowler, D. R., & Mojtabai, R. (2017). Urban–Rural Differences in Suicide in the State of Maryland: The Role of Firearms. AJPH Rural Health, 107(10), 1548-1553.