A US survey of suicidal thoughts and attempts has found that more people in the heavily Mormon western state of Utah think about killing themselves than anywhere else in the country.
One in 15 adults, or about 6.8 percent of those in the picturesque state that is home to Salt Lake City, had serious thoughts of suicide in 2008-2009, said the report by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
AdvertisementThe lowest rate was in the southeastern state of Georgia, with one in 50 adults, or 2.1 percent of the population reporting they thought of killing themselves.
The report is the first to examine state-by-state self-reported thoughts, plans and attempts to commit suicide, but did not measure actual suicides.
Suicide bids were highest in the tiny northeastern state of Rhode Island, where one in 67 people (1.5 percent) reported to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health that they had tried to take their own lives in the past year.
The lowest number of attempts were in Delaware, with one in 1,000 people, or 0.1 percent, saying they tried to end their own lives, according to the report.
"Suicide is a tragedy for individuals, families, and communities. This report highlights that we have opportunities to intervene before someone dies by suicide," said CDC director Thomas Frieden.
"We can identify risks and take action before a suicide attempt takes place."
Across the nation, 2.2 million adults (one percent of the adult population) reported making suicide plans in the past year, and more than one million (0.5 percent) said they attempted suicide.
The survey also found the highest rates of suicidal thoughts, plans and attempts among people aged 18-29.
Nearly 14 percent of US high school students said they had seriously considered attempting suicide during the 12 months preceding the survey, and 6.3 percent said they tried one or more times.
Women were also significantly more likely than men to have serious suicidal thoughts, the survey said.
According to the latest CDC data nationwide on actual suicides, more than 34,000 people killed themselves in 2007, which makes for about one suicide every 15 minutes. Suicide is the 11th leading cause of death in the United States.
The research released Thursday gave no suggestion as to why Utah, where about 60 percent of the population is Mormon, was a leader in suicidal thoughts.
However it did note that historically, suicide rates "have consistently been higher in Western states, especially the Rocky Mountain states."
Experts said the reasons for suicidal feelings are complex, and that having state-by-state data should help public health officials focus on helping those most at risk.
"The variations identified in this report might reflect differences in the frequency of risk factors and the social and economic makeup of the study populations," said Linda Degutis, director of CDC's National Center for Injury Prevention and Control.
"These differences can influence the types of prevention strategies used in communities and the groups included."
People most at risk for suicide often have a family history of the event, a history of depression or substance abuse, or experience a stressful event in their lives, the CDC said.