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An examination of the association between altitude and suicide deaths, suicide attempts, and suicidal ideation among veterans at both the patient and geospatial level.
Wang X, Zamora-Resendiz R, Shelley CD, Manore C, Liu X, Oslin DW, McMahon B, Beckham JC, Kimbrel NA, MVP Suicide Exemplar Workgroup. An examination of the association between altitude and suicide deaths, suicide attempts, and suicidal ideation among veterans at both the patient and geospatial level. Journal of psychiatric research. 2022 Sep 1; 153:276-283.
Suicide is a major public health problem affecting US Veterans and the US in general. Many variables (e.g., demographic, clinical, biological, geographic) have been associated with risk for suicide and suicidal behavior, including altitude; however, the exact nature of the relationship between altitude and suicide remains unclear in part due to the fact that previous studies have used either geospatial data or individual-level data, but not both. Prior research has also failed to consider the full range of suicidal thoughts and behaviors, ranging from suicidal ideation to suicide deaths. Accordingly, the objective of the present research was to use both geospatial data (county and zip codes) and individual-level data to comprehensively assess the association between altitude and suicide mortality, suicide attempts, and suicidal ideation among US Veterans between 2000 and 2018. Taken together, our results demonstrate that there is a strong correlation between altitude and suicide rates at all the levels investigated and using different statistical analyses and even after controlling for significant covariates such as percent of age > 50yr, percent male, percent white, percent non-Hispanic, median household income, and population density. We show that there is a positive correlation between altitude and suicide attempts especially when controlling by the covariates and a weak correlation between altitude and suicide ideation and the combination of suicide, suicide attempts and suicide ideation.