Feasibility of Assessing Suicide Ideation and History of Suicidal Behavior in Rural Communities

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Suicide in rural areas has not received significant attention in the research literature to this point, although suicide rates are higher among adults and older adults in rural areas than in urban areas. The aims of the study were as follows: (1) establish the feasibility of assessing suicide ideation and history of suicidal behavior; (2) determine preliminary estimates of the prevalence of suicide ideation, and history of suicide attempts; and (3) examine the effectiveness and acceptability of safety and referral plans for individuals whose responses indicated elevated suicide risk, in rural communities with limited access to referral care. Participants were 96 adults aged 40 to 85 years old (M = 57.34, SD = 11.47) residing in West Texas. Our results indicate that 26% of participants endorsed a lifetime history of suicide ideation and/or suicide attempt(s) and 12.5% reported suicide ideation in the past year. In addition, 93.4% of participants reported that participation in our suicide-focused study was an excellent or good experience. Results suggest that individuals in rural communities are willing to talk about suicide, found the experience helpful, and were satisfied with the referral process.