January 16, 2011

Sunday, January 16, 2011
Researchers have examined twenty years of mortality data from counties across the United States and discovered that those living at higher altitudes were at greater risk of suicide. Geographically speaking, altitude refers to the height above mean sea level. High altitudes mean low air pressure, lower temperatures and less oxygen.
Barry Brenner, MD, PhD, and David Cheng, MD, University Hospitals Case Medical Center (Cleveland, OH), and coauthors Sunday Clark, MPH, ScD, University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (PA), and Carlos Camargo Jr., MD, DrPH, Massachusetts General Hospital (Boston), 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.
In addition, a link was still evident when all other factors, such as age, gender, race and level of income were held constant. Furthermore, researchers’ uncovered evidence that this correlation was not in any way linked to higher death tolls resulting from other causes. In reality, residents of higher altitude locations were found to have significantly lower rates of overall mortality.

What could be contributing to this elevated risk of suicide? Could it be that the locations are simply less densely populated? Are there higher rates of addiction among the residents? Could it be that a cold climate increases this risk? Are residents in these areas more likely to own guns? Or could it really be that a lack of oxygen to the brain, especially for those already struggling with mental illness, is the contributing risk factor?

Top 10 highest cities worldwide:

10. Mizma, Ethiopia – 11483 ft
9. Apartaderos, Venezuela – 11502 ft
8. Raíces, Mexico – 11919 ft
7. Laya, Bhutan – 12533 ft
6. Olacapato, Argentina – 13153 ft
5. Dolpa, Nepal – 14301 ft
4. Parinacota, Chile – 14435 ft
3. Komic, Lahaul-Spiti district, India – 15049 ft
2. Colquechaca, Bolivia – 15393 ft
1. La Rinconada, Peru and/or Wenzhuan, China – 16728 ft

Suicide Risk Greater for People Living at Higher Elevations, Study Finds
Altitude
List of highest towns by country

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I have an educational background is in Psychology and Sociology. In addition, I have worked with many diverse individuals of all ages, with varying degrees of mental and/or physical illness. I enjoy following current news and research that impacts my area of expertise.

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