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In other words, if you get high, you have a higher likelihood of killing yourself with a gun. No, really. “Namkug Kim, Ph.D., of the University of Utah in Salt Lake City, and colleagues conducted a study to evaluate the relationship between altitude and suicide rates, including gun- and non-gun-related suicide rates, hypothesizing that altitude would be significantly associated with suicide rate based on their past observations,” reports . . .

“After adjustment for age, the researchers found a significant positive correlation between mean altitude of the county of residence and suicide rate. This correlation was present for both suicide involving guns as well as non-gun-related suicides. The researchers concluded that this association could be related to metabolic stress associated with mild hypoxia at higher altitudes in individuals with pre-existing mood disorders.” Next up: trailer parks.

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  1. Hmm? I grew up at about 7800' elevation, and I had some of the best times of my life (skiing, hunting, camping, off-roading) at even higher altitudes. 1.5 miles up was considered 'foothills' where I came from, and people from Denver were called 'Flatlanders.' I didn't hear about a lot of suicides.

    So I'm, uh, pretty skeptical of this conclusion. I love the mountains, the higher the better, as long as the weather holds up. In fact, bad weather and occasional altitude sickness (now that I live near sea level and don't get out as much) are my only problems with mountains. But maybe I'm just weird.

  2. In college I worked for the photo lab that processed film for the Utah County Sheriff's department. Sad to say, we regularly developed and printed photos of suicide crime scenes — mostly males with obvious self-inflicted GSWs in cars parked at the end of obscure canyon roads. Pretty grisly stuff.

    I couldn't speculate on whether the suicide rate there (~4500 feet) was any more or less than counties at lower elevations, but I can say that none of those instances were reported in local TV news or papers and I never heard about them around town. If I hadn't seen the images at work, I would have been blissfully unaware of the suicides.


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