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Rural/Urban Disparities in Adolescent Nonfatal Suicidal Ideation and Suicide Attempt: A Population-Based Study.

  • Author(s): Goldman-Mellor, Sidra;
  • Allen, Kristina;
  • Kaplan, Mark S
  • et al.

Adolescent suicide rates exhibit stark geographic disparities, with rates highest in rural areas. The causes of this disparity remain unclear. We investigated whether adolescent nonfatal suicidal ideation and attempt-leading risk factors for suicide-demonstrate the same rural/urban disparity. Using adolescent data from the 2011-2014 waves of the population-representative California Health Interview Survey (CHIS; N = 4,616), we estimated associations between residence in a rural area and suicidal ideation and suicide attempt, as well as access to psychological care. Survey-weighted logistic regression models controlled for individual- and family-level covariates. Results showed that rural adolescents were, compared to urban adolescents, substantially less likely to report recent suicidal ideation (OR = 0.25, 95% confidence interval [CI] = 0.10, 0.61) and suicide attempt (OR = 0.17, 95% CI = 0.05, 0.66). Suicidal youths in rural and urban areas were equally likely, however, to report receiving psychological care. In this study, rural adolescents in California reported lower rates of nonfatal suicidal behavior compared to urban peers. This pattern contrasts with rates of adolescent suicide fatality, which are higher in rural areas. Results suggest that reducing geographic disparities in youth suicide may require multifaceted public health approaches, in addition to better identification and treatment for high-risk adolescents.

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