Elevation Complications: Implications for Mental Health
Suicide is a painful and shocking reality of global society today. It is a leading cause of death among the global population and according to the World Health Organization, about 800,000 people die by suicide each year (World Health Organization, 2016). Many variables influence suicide rates such as low population density, history of alcohol/substance abuse, access to lethal methods, social isolation, and the presence of a stigma attached to mental illness (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2018). Another emerging factor that is being associated with increased suicide rates is living at higher elevations (>6500 feet). In the United States specifically, the highest suicide rates are among those who populate the Rocky Mountains (Montana, Wyoming, New Mexico, Idaho, Utah), the region with the highest elevations in the United States (CDC, 2017). The purpose of this Evidenced Based Practice Brief is to explore whether living at higher elevation leads to higher rates of suicide as compared to those who live at lower elevation. Results of this research may provide insight into alternative factors influencing global suicide rates. Nurses can use this research for many purposes, especially from a public health standpoint. A nurse can also advocate for patients by recognizing the potential influence that elevation may have on mental health and can use this information to inform the public about potential risk factors of different areas of the world in relation to suicide.