Suicide in the Mountain West Region of the United States

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Abstract

Background: The Mountain West region of the United States consistently reports the highest rates of suicide in the country. This pattern could reflect a regional culture-of-suicide script in support of suicide that implicitly influences individual's behavior. Aims: The primary aim of this study was to investigate whether suicide rates are elevated in the Mountain West across a wide range of demographic groups, thereby supporting a regional cultural script. Method: Suicide rates in the Mountain West between 1999 and 2014 were compared to the rest of the country across a wide range of demographic categories and levels of population density using the Center for Disease Control Multiple Causes of Death dataset published on the WONDER online database. Results: Suicide rates are elevated in the Mountain West for men and women, all racial groups, all age groups, and at every level of population density compared to the rest of the country. Limitations: Missing and suppressed data, the use of coroner reports, and the arbitrary nature of state and regional boundaries are all discussed as possible limitations to this study. Conclusion: These findings support a broad culture-of-suicide script that is pervasive in this region across demographic groups and all levels of population density.

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