221795 Using Suicide Death Data to Determine Low and High Rates of Suicide Risk in Geographic Areas

Monday, November 8, 2010 : 4:30 PM - 4:45 PM

James Ciarlo, PHD , Western Interstate Commission on Higher Education, Boulder, CO
Jean Demmler, PhD , Heartland Network for Social Research, Denver, CO
Suicide today remains a significant mental health problem in the United States, and has recently been increased by military personnel returning from combat duty in war zones such as Iraq and Afghanistan. What has been less apparent in the literature on suicide risk and interventions is the great variation in suicidal risk in different geographic areas of the U.S., especially in such state sub-areas as counties and cities and the distribution of high-risk populations within states and regions.

This presentation will report on a recently developed procedure for obtaining quantitative suicidal risk estimates for the counties of five states having sizeable rural populations, especially western states. It will show how the national data on actual suicides, obtained from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention's National Center for Health Statistics can be extracted, organized, and processed to obtain area-specific suicide risk rates (using standard terminology such as number of deaths by suicide per 100,000 population. For example, we found that suicide risk in the higher-rate counties of four rural states ranged from 80 per 100,000 to just one-fourth of that rate (or just 20 per 100,000). And for many rural counties, the rates were lower sometimes even zero over the five-year period we studied in small-population counties.

One use for such comparable suicide-risk data would be to assist in determining the actual and relative success of suicide prevention programs over time, in addition to comparing the effectiveness of different prevention and/or treatment programs operating in comparable geographic areas.

Learning Areas:
Planning of health education strategies, interventions, and programs

Learning Objectives:
1.Describe how nationally available suicide data can be used for purposes of services planning and service resource allocation

Keywords: Prevention, Suicide

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have been worked as a consultant to the WICHE project on rural suicide risk and the suicide prevention toolkit for rural primary care providers.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.