Spatiotemporal clustering of suicides in the US from 1999 to 2016: a spatial epidemiological approach.


All suicide deaths from January 1, 1999 to December 31, 2016 in the United States were identified using data from the Wide-ranging Online Data for Epidemiologic Research (WONDER) dataset. The ten states with the highest age-adjusted suicide rates were Montana, Alaska, Wyoming, New Mexico, Nevada, Utah, Idaho, Colorado, Arizona, and Oklahoma. A spatiotemporal scan statistic using a discrete Poisson model was employed to retrospectively detect spatiotemporal suicide clusters.

From 1999 to 2016, a total of 649,843 suicides were recorded in the United States. Nineteen statistically significant spatiotemporal suicide mortality clusters were identified in the states with the greatest suicide rates, and 13.53% of the suicide cases within these states clustered spatiotemporally. The risk ratio of the clusters ranged from 1.45 to 3.64 (p < 0.001). All states had at least one cluster, with three clusters spanning multiple states, and four clusters were found in Arizona. While there was no clear secular trend in the average size of suicide clusters, the number of clusters increased from 1999 to 2016.

Hot spots for suicidal behavior in the United States warrant public health intervention and continued surveillance. As suicide rates in the US continue to increase annually, public health efforts could be maximized by focusing on regions with substantial clustering.

This study aims to describe and characterize the spatial and temporal clustering patterns of suicide in the ten states with the greatest suicide burden in the United States from 1999 to 2016.

MIDAS Network Members

Sen Pei

Associate Research Scientist
Columbia University