Thursday, May 16, 2013

Comparing Levels of Social-Emotional Support with Suicide Rates in Greater Cincinnati

In recognition of National Prevention Week, we are drawing attention to health issues related to substance abuse and prevention. National Prevention Week is an annual health observance designed to increase public awareness of, and action around, substance abuse and mental health issues. This year's theme is: "Your voice. Your choice. Make a difference."

The Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) collects state data about U.S. residents regarding their health-related risk behaviors, chronic health conditions, and use of preventive services. Persons 18 years of age and older are contacted via telephone and surveyed using a standard core questionnaire, and may be asked additional optional or state-specific questions.

The map below is based on the BRFSS question: "How often do you get the social and emotional support you need?" Persons were considered to be receiving sufficient emotional/social support if they reported getting social/emotional support all or most of the time. Darker shading represents higher levels of social/emotional support. (Data is from 2006-2010.)

The second map shows the number of deaths due to suicide per 100,000 population (2005-2009). Data is from the National Vital Statistics System (NVSS). In the United States, decisions about whether deaths are listed as suicides on death certificates are usually made by a coroner or medical examiner. The definition of suicide is "death arising from an act inflicted upon oneself with the intent to kill oneself."

What questions come to mind when you compare the two maps? Could there be some relationship between the level of social/emotional support and the number of deaths due to suicide? Post a comment below to join the conversation. 

Additional BRFSS and NVSS data is available using the Community HealthView tool in HealthLandscape. Go to to register for a free account or to sign up for a free "Introduction to HealthLandscape" webinar.

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