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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Denis Marsili
Denis M2 years ago

Very interesting article!

Dale O.

Depression has many factors that cause a person to attempt or be successful in a suicide attempt. Higher altitudes is not something that I have heard much about, it will be interesting to see how high the suicide rates are in all high altitude nations around the world.

Dominika R, interesting comment.

Beverly C, if religion brings you comfort, that is fine, but to blame suicide on the devil is being rather simplistic when you say: "However, Satan, (aka the devil) is also real & alive here on Earth! He's the one who causes all the chaos we see every day! Suicide is only one of the evils caused by this spiritual entity."

Somehow, it is an easy out to say that 'the devil made him/her do it," as there are far too many other things going on in the lives of each individual.

Dominika Rychlik
Dominika Rychlik3 years ago

I think there are many factors related to high risk of suicide. For example, the attitude towards people having depressed mood or displaying autodestructive behaviours is often very negative which makes them hide their symptoms and fear to talk about them to anyone, even a psychiatrist. People shouldn't be stigmatised for their problems. It makes them suffer in silence and be more likely to have suicidal thoughts as they feel they are left alone with all their troubles.

Patricija Velecki

Suicide is something teenagers often think about but I don't think the teenagers who plan to do a suicide will tell it to the others,and they probably feel preasure

Erin H.
Erin H3 years ago

Interesting article, thank you!

Barb Hansen
Ba H3 years ago


Frank Hanline
Frank Hanline3 years ago

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

Donna F.
Donna F3 years ago


Elena T.
Elena P3 years ago

Thank you :)

Winn Adams
Winn A3 years ago