Sunday, October 4, 2009

"Booze, Guns and the Rise in Rural Suicide"

It was a long time ago that I took Sociology 100, but I remember learning that suicides were always in higher percentages in small states than large states. My Professor showed us how Wyoming has an incredible number of people offing themselves, and yet in New York the per capita numbers make it look like it never happens.

Anyway, this article seems to not only reinforce this, but it actually says its getting worse!

Attempted and completed suicides take place at higher rates in rural communities, especially in areas that have more bars and taverns than other rural places, according to a new study.

The numbers of suicides were highest among white men.

Suicide rates were higher in both urban and rural places with concentrations of bars and taverns, according to the report by Fred Johnson, Paul Gruenewald and Lillian Remer. The authors speculate that a wide range of factors contributed to higher suicide rates in rural areas, including widespread use of firearms, local economic problems and alcoholism. Three out of four rural suicides involved firearms, according to the report.

The study shows a sudden and sharp increase in the rural suicide rate beginning a generation ago. In the early 1970s, suicide rates of rural men exceeded the urban rate by just 4%. But by the late 1990s, the suicide rate for rural men exceeded the urban rate by 54%.

Check out the link for more on how they conducted the study.

My love for cities and city development goes beyond just the aesthetics of a skyline and the incredible alacrity that comes over me when I'm in the heart of a metropolis--if I boil it all down, it comes down to opportunity for community. Within a city you have the ability to create your own version of what you experience. Take Columbus. To some, there is the Buckeye/Ohio State Columbus, the city that has 'the best damned band in the land' and the football team that squashes Michigan (6 years in a ROW!). To others, they have the fancy downtown and the arts districts. To the gays, Columbus is a unique surprise, an unexpected liberal haven tucked in the center of such a fickle state. To someone like me, I view it as a temporary home--a place I will always look back on fondly. The bottom line is we all view it differently, and yet it is the exact same place.

In small, rural areas, there isn't that ability to re-create your own village. When you have 1200 people in a town and nothing for 50 miles in any direction, it is what it is and you just accept it. This lack of mobility and diversity in a community is really the destruction of community, and it's one of the main reasons why suicides are so frequent there. If you can't find friends, if you can't find your community, if no one knows if you exist...why bother? Why keep going? Would anyone even know you were gone in the first place?