What suicide methods are common in different cities?
January 25, 2008 7:18 AM   Subscribe

Is there a way to find out what suicide methods are common by city?

For example, ____ has a high rate of suicide by jumping off a building, or ____ has a high rate of suicide by shots to the head, or ____ has a really low rate of suicide by hanging.
posted by agregoli to Health & Fitness (7 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
There must be studies on this. You can Google "suicide method [name of city]" which will lead to some individual city studies, but it doesn't look like you can't get all US cities that way. Off topic, my attempts at this did yield this fascinating item: "Reassessing the link between country music and suicide". Thankfully or unfortunately, depending on your views of country music, it concludes that contrary to the claims of an earlier study (which had surmised that country music may "nurture a suicidal mood"), there is not in fact a relationship between the amount of country music broadcast in a city and the white suicide rate there.
posted by beagle at 7:44 AM on January 25, 2008 [1 favorite]

I'm working on other things right now so I can't do an in-depth search for you, but when I saw the question I thought that the CDC's MMWR might be a good place to investigate. My thought is that you might have to take data from a few graphs and compile the data yourself, but I do know some of the facts you are seeking are in there.
posted by carabiner at 7:59 AM on January 25, 2008

I don't know that it breaks things down as finely as you specified (e.g., by city) because I can't get to the full text, but a couple articles by David Lester discuss variation in methods of suicide by region (US states and other nations):
Lester, D. The regional variation of suicide by different methods. Crisis, 1990, 11, 32-37.
Lester, D. Suicide rates around the world. Crisis, 1990, 11, 82-84.

I couldn't find these anywhere online, so you may have to get them via Interlibrary Loan.
posted by cog_nate at 8:23 AM on January 25, 2008

Oh, and the full title of the journal is Crisis: international journal of suicide- and crisis-studies, and the ISSN is 0227-5910. (Your library's ILL person will appreciate that info.)
posted by cog_nate at 8:26 AM on January 25, 2008

Response by poster: Thanks, good leads so far!
posted by agregoli at 8:26 AM on January 25, 2008

The CDC mortality data will have some information for larger cities, particularly the older ones (I only worked with pre-1950 data.) The Census Bureau's mortality statistics, available with the Decennial censuses, also list certain types of suicides, at least in the earlier years. The files are poorly scanned PDFs (the HTML isn't up and you'll have to download giant files stored on some ancient computer that I swear they've hooked a 28.8 bps modem up to.)

Eg, though, 1900's census, file v4c2, page 120 of the vital statistics, in the special mortality tables:
Suicide by....cutting throat
....(not specified)
For regions of each state and some larger municipal areas.
posted by cobaltnine at 2:40 PM on January 25, 2008

The American Association of Suicidology might prove to be useful.
posted by carabiner at 4:16 PM on January 25, 2008

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