Youth Suicide Rates by Region and State

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The Western states, especially the region that flanks the long spine of the Rocky Mountains—Montana, Nevada, Colorado, and Utah—consistently have among the highest percentages of teenage suicides in the country. The map below shows an average of state-by-state suicide rates for 1994-97, calculated per 100,000 youths ages 10 to 19. Experts at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say one reason for the high rates in the Western half of the country is that residents of prairie and mountain states are more socially isolated. Some also have speculated that the rate is higher because those with a pioneering spirit who migrate West may be disappointed when they arrive at their destinations and their high expectations aren't met. If depression strikes, mental-health care tends to be harder to access in those regions. Less populated states also tend to have fewer community institutions such as parks and recreational activities to bring far-flung people together. Higher suicide rates may also be connected to a larger number of firearms in circulation per capita in the West and the South. Individual states are ranked below, beginning with Alaska, the state with the highest teenage suicide rate.

Vol. 19, Issue 31, Page 24

Published in Print: April 12, 2000, as Youth Suicide Rates by Region and State
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