The city where an individual lives can influence the risk of dying by suicide, revealed a new study. The study findings suggested that adults living in cities with more socioeconomic disadvantages have higher chances of suicidal death than adults living in less-disadvantaged cities. The study also found that living in cities with a higher percentage of family households demonstrated a lower risk of suicide than living in cities where more residents lived alone or with unrelated friends.
Justin Denney, assistant professor of sociology at Rice University in the US, said, "Many people see suicide as an inherently individual act, however, our research suggests that it is an act that can be heavily influenced by broader socioeconomic and family factors."
The researchers organized the study participant information by analyzing the health data of more than a million adults living in the US between 1986 and 2003. They considered all the cities in the U.S. and divided them into quartiles based on US Census information on the proportion of residents living in families. After statistically adjusting for the family-living situation of adult survey respondents, including their marital status, the researcher team found that the group of individuals at greatest risk for suicide lived in cities where 25% of residents or fewer lived in family settings. In fact, these adults, whether they were married with children or single and living alone, were more than two times more likely to die by suicide compared with similar adults who lived in cities where 81% or more of the city's population lived in family settings.
The second part of the study revealed that survey respondents who lived in more socioeconomically disadvantaged cities experienced a higher likelihood of death by suicide. For example, for every standard-deviation-unit increase in socioeconomic disadvantage for the city of residence, the risk of suicide among adults living in the city, whether they were employed, unemployed or even retired, increased by 7%.
The findings are published in the Social Science Quarterly.