Date of Award

Fall 1-7-2017

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Public Health (MPH)


Public Health

First Advisor

Ruiyan Luo

Second Advisor

Joseph Michael Bryan



Urban/Rural Inequalities in Suicide Rates in Georgia, 2008-2013:

A county-level analysis


Garrett Mahon

December 9, 2016


INTRODUCTION: Suicide is a significant public health issue. There have been copious amounts of research completed worldwide attempting to understand the reasons behind suicide, including those revolving around urban and rural disparities. However, research has yet to find a consensus on the issue. The state of Georgia, in particular, has a variety of county-level characteristics that could help understand the dissimilarity between urban/rural populations and direct future research to improve prevention strategies.

OBJECTIVE: The present study aims to assess disparities in suicide rates across urban-rural populations, adjusting for rurality, ethnicity, and a county-level dissimilarity index, in the State of Georgia from 2008 to 2013.

METHODS: Suicide mortality data by ethnicity, age, and county of residence were obtained from Georgia’s violent death incident report and death certificate database for 2008 to 2013. A series of Poisson Models were used to evaluate the rates of suicides between urban and rural populations.

RESULTS: The analysis was conducted on 5833 suicides across the 159 counties of Georgia with Urban and Rural counties classified as both a binary and fourfold modify variable. There was sufficient evidence to suggest that rural counties in Georgia have a significantly high rate of suicide than those of its urban counterpart, (IRR=1.43, IRR=1.37), even after adjusting for ethnicity and a county level dissimilarity index.

CONCLUSION: Georgia’s suicide rates are relatively higher among those living in rural counties when compared to urban settings. These results both confirm and conflict with findings from previous research. The diversity in findings denotes that future research should explore the variations across urban/rural classification systems, spatial remoteness of the area, and additional regional level characteristics.