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A Multi-scale Analysis of Spatial and Temporal Suicide Patterns in North Carolina, 2000 to 2017

Authors: Sarah Woolard*, Appalachian State University, Jennifer Runkle, North Carolina State University, Maggie Sugg, Appalachian State University
Topics: Medical and Health Geography
Keywords: Mental health, GIS, Suicide, Rural health
Session Type: Poster
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

Suicide is a leading cause of death among Americans with rates increasing in nearly every state from 1999 to 2017. Yet, very little is known about the spatial pattern of suicide and the relationship between social, environmental, and/or economic factors, especially in rural areas. This study identifies geographic locations and temporal trends of suicide in North Carolina at the census block group level, a small spatial scale rarely considered in suicide mapping studies. We found statistically significant clustering throughout the state of North Carolina with the largest suicide clusters found in the western region, a rural location in the Appalachian mountains with high rates of poverty, low educational attainment, and high gun ownership. Demographically, we found that suicide was more likely to occur in clusters among adolescents (under age 25) than other age groups. Identifying communities of high suicide rates and clustering could assist public health officials to target areas for the development of appropriate prevention and reduction strategies.

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