Suicide in the City: Do Characteristics of Place Really Influence Risk?
Denney, Justin T.
Rogers, Richard G.
Pampel, Fred C.
Objective: This article investigates the role of social context on individual suicide mortality with attention paid to the possibility that contextual effects are simply the sum of individual characteristics associated with suicide. Methods: We use restricted data from the 1986–2006 National Health Interview Survey-Linked Mortality Files, which include nearly 1 million records and 1,300 suicides, to examine the role of familial and socioeconomic context on adult suicide. Results: Results show that adults living in cities with more socioeconomic disadvantage and fewer families living together have higher odds of suicidal death than adults living in less disadvantaged cities and cities with more families living together, respectively, after controlling for individual-level socioeconomic status, marital status, and family size. Conclusion: The findings support classic sociological arguments that the risk of suicide is indeed influenced by the social milieu and cannot simply be explained by the aggregation of individual characteristics.