A review of the literature on rural suicide: risk and protective factors, incidence, and prevention

Crisis. 2006;27(4):189-99. doi: 10.1027/0227-5910.27.4.189.


Background: Suicide is a major cause of mortality worldwide. Differences in rates of suicide exist between urban and rural areas; however, little rigorous research has examined the phenomena of rural suicide.

Objective: This review examines the current body of literature on rural suicide and investigates differences between rural and urban suicide, including socioeconomic, psychological, and cultural variables. Prevention and intervention strategies specific to rural communities are discussed. DESCRIPTION OF STUDIES: All empirical and epidemiological studies of rural suicide were included in the review regardless of study design or methodology.

Results: Although findings are mixed, research and epidemiological data indicate that suicide is a public health concern in rural areas, with suicide rates often greater than in urban areas.

Discussion: Rural locale may create geographic, psychological, and sociocultural barriers to treatment of suicide. A better understanding of the role of rurality in the development and maintenance of suicidal thoughts and behaviors is needed and may inform prevention and intervention efforts.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Risk Factors
  • Rural Population / statistics & numerical data*
  • Suicide / prevention & control*
  • Suicide / statistics & numerical data*
  • United States / epidemiology