Research Alert: May 29, 2019

Suicidal Thoughts, Plans, and Attempts by Non-Metropolitan and Metropolitan Residence

Our objectives were to compare trends in the prevalence of suicidal thoughts, plans, and attempts among residents of non-metropolitan, small metropolitan, and large metropolitan areas, as well as to identify demographic, social, and economic factors associated with suicidal thoughts, plans, and attempts. We used data from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) for the years 2010-2016, restricted to adults ages 18 years and older.

The overall mean prevalence of suicidal thinking from 2010-2016 was significantly higher (P < .05) among non-metropolitan and small metropolitan adults (4.1% and 4.2%, respectively) than large metropolitan adults (3.7%). The overall mean prevalence of suicidal plans from 2010-2016 varied significantly (P < .001) by county type and was highest among residents of non-metropolitan (1.3%) counties. The overall mean prevalence of suicidal attempts from 2010-2016 did not vary significantly by county type.

Coupled with prior evidence indicating that non-metropolitan areas have higher suicide rates, our findings suggest that suicide prevention interventions should be further targeted toward non-metropolitan counties. Additional research could be useful for determining the mechanism(s) at work and how they might be channeled in ways that reduce suicidal thoughts and behaviors among those in non-metropolitan areas.

Contact Information:

Ty Borders, PhD
Rural and Underserved Health Research Center
Phone: 859.218.2041

Additional Resources of Interest: