Rural Suicide Prevention
Suicide rates are typically higher in rural areas than more urban areas. Suicide prevention can be more challenging in rural communities with more expansive stretches of land between homes and limited access to mental health care providers. Along with the nature of rural life, there may be greater access to lethal means in rural communities than in urban. Education for primary care providers on assessing and managing suicide risks and implementing telepsychology, telepsychiatry, and crisis teams are components of a comprehensive approach to suicide prevention in rural areas. Below are options for suicide prevention education specific to rural healthcare:
RHI Hub offers a Rural Suicide Prevention Toolkit that compiles evidence-based models and resources to support communities trying to implement suicide prevention programs in rural areas throughout the United States. The toolkit is module-based and offers a step-by-step program for developing, implementing, assessing, and maintaining rural suicide prevention programs. This program was designed by the University of Minnesota Rural Health Research Center in collaboration with the NORC Walsh Center for Rural Health Analysis and the Rural Health Information Hub (RHIhub). Two experts in the field continuously update the website and the modules to ensure that the information is as up-to-date as possible for rural communities.
The APA echoes the CDC’s concern about rural suicide rates. Greater access to firearms, high rates of substance abuse, and healthcare disparities form a complicated combination to mitigate suicides in rural settings. With the vast majority of Mental Health Professional shortages in rural communities, access to help is limited during the most critical times. The stigma of psychological treatment in rural areas is more significant than in urban city centers; transportation problems, lack of insurance coverage, and a deficiency in privacy in small towns contribute to the low number of people who reach out when their mental health declines. The APA provides educational materials and resources on their website for rural communities.