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Shocking Link to Suicide Rates

Shocking Link to Suicide Rates

In the wake of the tragic loss of Robin Williams, one of the great comedians of our time, and his suicide, it is important to examine why suicide rates are increasing with the hope that better understanding will improve the chances of saving peoples’ lives.

Sadly, suicide and death from self-inflicted injuries is currently the 14th most common cause of death. According to current increases in suicide rates, some experts believe that in 17 years it will be the 12th most common cause of death. While there are many possible reasons for the increase in suicides, including:  psychiatric illness, mood disorders, and substance abuse, one study found an unusual link between altitude and the incidence of suicide.

Researchers from the University Hospitals Case Medical Center in Cleveland, University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, and the Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, assessed mortality data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and published their findings in the journal High Altitude Medicine & Biology. After examining 2584 counties across the US and suicide rates over twenty years, as well as accounting for various other factors, they found a shocking correlation between suicide and altitude. The higher rates of suicide were found in the counties situated at the highest altitude.

The researchers concluded that “altitude is strongly associated with suicide rates in the United States. This novel finding is not explained by county differences in demographic factors, income, or geographic isolation.” The researchers found no correlation between other forms of death and altitude.

An earlier correlation linking suicide to altitude was also found in South Korean counties and published in the American Journal of Psychiatry.

The researchers of the High Altitude Medicine & Biology study hope that additional research may help to determine the exact reason(s) for the increased risk of suicide at higher altitudes although they note the possibility of reduced oxygen, brain hormonal changes, and other possible factors. Of course, altitude is not the only factor to consider or address but greater understanding of the precise biological and biochemical workings behind the increased suicide risk linked to altitude may help save lives. In the meantime, perhaps health care specialists will be able to address the altitude factor by encouraging relocation to communities in lower altitudes, oxygen therapy, and increased monitoring of and assistance with people suffering from depression or at high risk of suicide.

9 Physical Symptoms of Depression

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7:26AM PDT on Sep 1, 2014

Interesting article, thank you!

7:28AM PDT on Aug 29, 2014


6:03AM PDT on Aug 27, 2014

The highest suicide rates are for young men between 19-24

In fact 19-24 year old men are more than 3 times as likely to commit suicide

With young men finding themselves bearing the brunt of every idiot who happened to be male before them and getting guilt by association (they are male therefore they are evil - not my idea but read some of the more strident misandrogynists and see what I am saying is what they say) no wonder

Young men are being marginalized for being male

2:17PM PDT on Aug 24, 2014


9:44AM PDT on Aug 23, 2014

Thank you :)

7:50AM PDT on Aug 23, 2014


4:39AM PDT on Aug 23, 2014


3:57AM PDT on Aug 23, 2014

And Russ L.-Gee thanks! Good to know! I'm so stupid,I'd never thought oxygenating my brain would have positive effects on my body as well. Now I won't be fat anymore! What a pal you are.Now if only you could rid me of my fibromyalgia,sciatica,scoliosis,spinal stenosis,arthritis,asthma,high BP,genetic high cholesterol, Hashimoto's Disease,and the other thyroid disorder I have.I forget the other illnesses. But you're right.Too fat to walk 1/2 a mile to my-Volvo.Too fat to walk upstairs most nights without wishing for a 1st floor bedroom. You got met got me

1:40AM PDT on Aug 23, 2014

What a load of crap. Move to lower altitudes.The floods will wipe you out but you won't be depressed about it.

11:33PM PDT on Aug 22, 2014


People may stop breathing properly when they are anxious/depressed, and perhaps this can lead to making hasty sad decisions.

Perhaps a lack of oxygen is a link, but the findings may also be due to chance, as depression itself may be the bigger link.

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
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