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Does living in high altitude increase the risk of suicide?

High Altitude PhotoDoes living in high altitude increase the risk of suicide? Researchers have observed that U.S. suicide rates appear to be the highest among residents of the “Intermountain West” region.

 

Other well-observed regional factors, including low population density and the high prevalence of gun ownership, may contribute to the noticeably elevated risk, the study team acknowledged.

 

But reporting in the Sept. 15 issue of the American Journal of Psychiatry, the researchers say that the metabolic stress that results from the insufficient intake of oxygen — a common feature of high-altitude living — could on its own significantly aggravate and contribute to such risk, particularly among people who already struggle with various forms of mood disorders and/or depression.

 

To read the entire article, go to: womenshealth.gov

 

SOURCES: Perry F. Renshaw, M.D., Ph.D., professor of psychiatry, Utah School of Medicine, and investigator, Utah Science Technology and Research (USTAR) initiative; Alan L. Berman, Ph.D, executive director, American Association of Suicidology, Washington, D.C.; Sept. 15, 2010, online American Journal of Psychiatry

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