Suicide rates are increasing, especially among rural Americans
Suicide is becoming more common in America, an increase most pronounced in rural areas, new research has found.
The study in the journal JAMA Network Open, highlights a cluster of factors, including lack of insurance and the prevalence of gun shops, that are associated with high suicide rates, news-medical.net reported.
Researchers at The Ohio State University evaluated national suicide data from 1999 to 2016, and provided a county-by-county national picture of the suicide toll among adults. Suicide rates jumped 41 percent, from a median of 15 per 100,000 county residents in the first part of the study to 21.2 per 100,000 in the last three years of the analysis.
Suicide rates were highest in less-populous counties and in areas where people have lower incomes and fewer resources. From 2014 through 2016, suicide rates were 17.6 per 100,000 in large metropolitan counties compared with 22 per 100,000 in rural counties.
In urban areas, counties with more gun shops tended to have higher suicide rates. Counties with the highest suicide rates were mostly in Western states, including Colorado, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming; in Appalachian states including Kentucky, Virginia and West Virginia; and in the Ozarks, including Arkansas and Missouri.
Suicide rates are trending higher despite a national prevention effort that kicked off in 2015 with the goal of reducing suicide rates 20 percent by 2025. Another recent analysis found that suicide rates in almost 90 percent of US counties increased more than 20 percent from 2005 to 2015.
The new study included 453,577 suicides by adults 25 to 64 years old from 1996 to 2016. Suicides were most common among men and those 45 to 54 years old.
Suicide prevention can be bolstered with this new information about trends and patterns of suicide, said Cynthia Fontanella, a study coauthor and associate professor of psychiatry and behavioral health at Ohio State.
“For example, all communities might benefit from strategies that enhance coping and problem-solving skills, strengthen economic support and identify and support those who are at risk for suicide,” Fontanella said.
“The data showing that suicides were higher in counties with more gun shops – specifically in urban areas – highlights the potential to reduce access to methods of suicide that can increase the chances an at-risk person will die.”
Another factor related to increased suicide rates, particularly in rural areas, was “deprivation,” a cluster of factors including underemployment, poverty and low educational attainment.
Long-term and persistent poverty may be more entrenched and the economic opportunities for individuals more limited in rural areas, Steelesmith said, adding that many rural Americans rely on jobs in agriculture and industries including coal mining.
“In cities, you have a core of services that are much easier to get to in many cases. You may have better access to job assistance, food banks and nonprofits that might all contribute to less desperation among residents,” Steelesmith said.
High social fragmentation – which factors in levels of single-person households, unmarried residents and the impermanence of residents – was associated with higher suicide rates, as was low social capital, a measure of the interconnectedness of people in an area. Both of these were particularly pronounced in rural America.
Other factors associated with higher suicide rates included high percentages of veterans in a county and lower rates of insurance coverage.
Fontanella said that people who live in rural America might particularly benefit from strategies to promote social connections through community engagement activities that offer opportunities for residents to interact and to become familiar with supportive resources in their
Steelesmith said it’s important to note that county-by-county geographical information on suicide doesn’t tell the whole story. Some states, particularly in the West, have large counties with great variability in terms of resident life experiences, for instance. This work also excludes data on suicides by young and elderly Americans.
Children with disabilities were excluded from BC schools more than 3,600 times: Report
ABC (Association to Benefit Children) organization that has been hearing from parents of children with disabilities for the past year said thousands of those children are being denied a proper education.
Nicole Kaler and her organization BCEdAccess have been collecting data through an online form that asks parents whether their child was given shorter school days, missed a field trip or assembly, or was asked to stay home from school altogether during the most recent school year, Global News reported.
The data released in late August showed 3,610 instances across nearly 500 reports in which children were excluded, with at least one instance in every district across BC (British Columbia).
“When we say exclusion, we’re talking anything from kids not at school at all to having a reduced school day, constantly,” Kaler said. “Some kids only go to school up until noon.”
The report from BCEdAccess that analyzes the data said key issues behind the exclusions include a lack of education assistants, insufficient training for support staff, and a lack of continuity for the children themselves.
Kaler said the most crucial missing piece is a desire to understand the child’s disability, rather than dismissing them from the classroom.
“Instead of figuring out the function of the behavior, we are managing children by sending them home,” she said.
“Sending a child home doesn’t change the situation that caused the behavior in the first place.”
The report said many parents also feel ‘forced’ into agreeing to keep their children home or pick them up early, not knowing that it’s an option to refuse.
The financial strain felt by those parents was also mentioned in many responses, which Kaler said can’t be ignored.
“A lot of our parents are not able to keep their job because they’re constantly being called to come pick up their children,” she said. “It forces us into serious financial situations, and the impact of that is something families never really recover from.”
Education Minister Rob Fleming said he’s heard the concerns raised by Kaler and other parents and advocates for children with disabilities.
“We need to get better together,” he said. “We certainly want to hear from this organization and others about where there’s further room for improvement.”
Fleming added the province is looking at enhancing funding for children with disabilities and is committed to hiring more education assistants, who are already growing in number.
The ministry is also collecting its own data on where and why children are being excluded.
Until the situation improves, Kaler said there are hundreds of children who are being impacted across BC.
“Kids with disabilities are not being provided an education,” she said. “What are the consequences of that?”
Wales numeracy test scores revised after miscalculation
Thousands of pupils’ scores in an numeracy test will be revised because of a problem with the way the data was calculated.
The Welsh Government said ‘a minor issue’ had emerged with the way the results were worked out to produce an ‘age-standardized’ score, BBC wrote.
The issue affects most of the 268,000 pupils in years two to nine who took the online test.
They will see a ‘slight change’ in their score, a spokesperson
Most pupils who scored above average will see their mark revised down and most who scored below average will be revised up.
This year’s assessment of ‘procedural numeracy’ — maths calculations — was the first to be taken online as part of changes to annual reading and numeracy tests.
Online reading assessments in Welsh and English will be available to schools this autumn, before the ‘numeracy reasoning’ test — solving maths problems — moves online from
The changes see the difficulty of questions depending on the answers given by the pupils, with the aim of giving a more accurate picture of a child’s progress.
The raw scores are then compared with other pupils who were born in the same year and month and then adjusted to take account of their
Spain struggles to accommodate thousands of young migrants
Spain is struggling to accommodate thousands of young migrants who over the years have arrived alone on rickety boats or hidden in trucks, some of whom have ended up on the streets or even become involved in crime.
There are currently around 14,000 unaccompanied young migrants in Spain, according to the government, up from just around 4,000 in 2016, AFP wrote.
In regions like Catalonia in Spain’s northeast, which has a large Moroccan community that attracts the youngsters after they arrive in the south, reception centers are overwhelmed.
In Barcelona, dozens sleep rough on benches, in parks or in makeshift camps hidden in the hills that surround this Mediterranean seaside city.
“They’re damaged, many sniff glue. And they’re very vulnerable on the street, criminal groups take advantage and get hold of them,” Peio Sanchez, a priest in charge of the Santa Anna church where young migrants sleep regularly, told AFP.
In front of the church in a small, hidden square near the popular Ramblas avenue in Barcelona, two teenagers share a cigarette as they play on their mobile phones.
One of them sleeps in a juvenile center. The other, Sofiane, lives on the street.
His child’s thin and short body contrasts sharply with his hard appearance, his cheek scarred.
Orphaned when he was 10, he emigrated from Morocco to Spain hidden underneath a truck. He was sent to various centers far from Barcelona, but always ended up coming back to the city.
“My friends are here, my life is here,” he said.
Adria Padrosa, a social worker at the church, said they persuaded him to go to a center several weeks ago, but he returned the following day.
“He’s a complicated profile, very used to living on the streets,” he sid.
The majority of the migrants the church tends to are no longer underage.
They were when they came to Spain, but when they turned 18 they were no longer given protection or support.
Spain automatically gives minors a residency permit but not a work one.
They can get a work permit after five years in Spain or if they get an annual full-time contract, which is hard to come by in a country with 32 percent unemployment among under 25s.
“You turn 18 and that’s it. They give you your suitcase, they kick you out and bye bye,” said Najib Benyaala, a 21-year-old Moroccan with curly hair he’s dyed blonde.
“From one day to the next, you find yourself on the streets.”
Athletic and smiley, Najib does boxing in a gym in Barcelona for vulnerable people, a haven of peace after years on the street, in squats or shelters.
“The street is tough, it’s bad,” he said.
“If they gave us work permits, we wouldn’t all be on the street.”
In Catalonia, just one percent of unaccompanied minors have a work permit when they turn 18, saidGeorgina Oliva, in charge of childhood matters in the regional government.
“Without this, it’s very difficult.”
Plunge into crime
Catalonia tends to 4,200 unaccompanied young migrants, a large chunk of the total in Spain.
Despite a decrease in 2019, arrivals in the region rose tenfold between 2015 and 2018, from 350 to 3,700.
That caused punctual scenes of chaos, with some youngsters sleeping on the ground in police stations for lack of room in reception centers.
Authorities have since opened 3,000 new places for unaccompanied minors.
“We’ve been warning about this for years but until the bubble burst, nothing was done,” said Axel Roura of the NGO Casal dels Infants which looks for housing for homeless youngsters.
The presence of these young migrants has been sharply criticized by Spain’s far-right which has identified them all as delinquents after some were caught robbing tourists, at times violently.
But the Catalonia region’s Oliva maintains that over 80 percent of young migrants have never committed any crime, and only “a very small percentage repeatedly commit crimes.”
“The huge majority wants to get training, work and send money home,” she said.
Najib, who survives thanks to black market jobs and charity, hits out at this stigma.
“I’m sick of (hearing) ‘go back to your country’,” he said.
“They say Moroccans are bad. They’re not bad, they just don’t have food or work.
“I’d like to be like everyone else, go get a coffee in the morning, sitting with my mobile, working, with a house, a family ... But it’s complicated.”
Pupils disappearance from schools
An analysis found that half of the 20,000 British pupils who left school between year 10 and year 11 could not be traced to another state school, the Guardian reported.