Emergency Department Visits for Suicidal Ideation and Self-Harm in Rural and Urban Youths

Jennifer A. Hoffmann*, Matt Hall, Doug Lorenz, Jay G. Berry

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Objectives: To compare emergency department (ED) visit rates for suicidal ideation and/or self-harm among youth by urban-rural location of residence. Study design: This is a retrospective analysis of ED visits for suicidal ideation and/or self-harm by youths aged 5-19 years (n = 297 640) in the 2016 Nationwide Emergency Department Sample, a representative sample of all US ED visits. We used weighted Poisson generalized linear models to compare population-based visit rates by urban–rural location of patient residence, adjusted for age, sex, and US Census region. For self-harm visits, we compared injury mechanisms by urban-rural location. Results: Among patients with ED visits for suicidal ideation and/or self-harm, the median age was 16 years, 65.9% were female, 15.9% had a rural location of patient residence, and 0.1% resulted in mortality. The adjusted ED visit rate for suicidal ideation/or and self-harm did not differ significantly by urban-rural location. For the subset of visits for self-harm, the adjusted visit rate was significantly higher in small metropolitan (adjusted incidence rate ratio [aIRR], 1.39; 95% CI, 1.01-1.90), micropolitan (aIRR, 1.46; 95% CI, 1.10-1.93), and noncore areas (aIRR, 1.39; 95% CI, 1.03-1.87) compared with large metropolitan areas. When stratified by injury mechanism, ED visit rates for self-inflicted firearm injuries were higher among youths living in rural areas compared with those in urban areas (aIRR, 3.03; 95% CI, 1.32-6.74). Conclusions: Compared with youths living in urban areas, youths living in rural areas had higher ED visit rates for self-harm, including self-inflicted firearm injuries. Preventive approaches for self-harm based in community and ED settings might help address these differences.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)282-289.e1
Journaljournal of pediatrics
StatePublished - Nov 2021


  • emergency medicine
  • rural health
  • self-harm
  • suicide

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health


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