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Link Between Suicide, Living at High Altitude

Suicide Risk from Living in High AltitudesA long-term epidemiological study has determined that individuals living at higher altitudes are at increased risk of committing suicide.

Since the study was observational, that is, simply tracking mortality rates from counties across the United States, a cause and effect relationship cannot be established. But the results may lead to more detailed investigation of potential causal links.

Researchers examined cause-of-death data from all 2,584 U.S. counties between 1979 and 1998 and found that, as a group, people living at higher elevations had a statistically significant higher rate of suicide.

The positive correlation between elevation and suicide risk was present even when the authors controlled for known suicide risk factors, such as older age, male sex, white race, and low income.

Interestingly, the authors determined that the increased suicide rates at higher altitudes are not part of a broader association between mortality from all causes and living at higher elevations. In fact, they report a significantly lower overall mortality rate at higher altitudes.

“This article describes a new, unexpected finding of a link between suicide rate and altitude of residence. The cause is obscure as yet,” says John B. West, M.D., Ph.D, a professor at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine.

The current study is published in High Altitude Medicine & Biology, a peer-reviewed journal published by Mary Ann Liebert, Inc.

Source: Mary Ann Liebert

Link Between Suicide, Living at High Altitude

Rick Nauert PhD

Rick Nauert, PhDDr. Rick Nauert has over 25 years experience in clinical, administrative and academic healthcare. He is currently an associate professor for Rocky Mountain University of Health Professionals doctoral program in health promotion and wellness. Dr. Nauert began his career as a clinical physical therapist and served as a regional manager for a publicly traded multidisciplinary rehabilitation agency for 12 years. He has masters degrees in health-fitness management and healthcare administration and a doctoral degree from The University of Texas at Austin focused on health care informatics, health administration, health education and health policy. His research efforts included the area of telehealth with a specialty in disease management.

APA Reference
Nauert PhD, R. (2018). Link Between Suicide, Living at High Altitude. Psych Central. Retrieved on February 22, 2019, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 Aug 2018
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 Aug 2018
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