Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



Document Type



This dissertation is an examination of the social structural determinants of rural suicide rates. Examining rates of white male suicide in rural and urban counties of the U.S. Gulf States Region, this research adds to the existing literature by examining the theoretical and empirical implications of rural-urban location within sociology's Integration-Regulation Hypothesis of Suicide. Drawing upon suicide research from sociology, criminology and social psychology this study tests the differential explanatory power of three alternative theoretical and empirical predictor models of rural and urban suicide rates. Overall findings from this study underscore the need to examine suicide rates as distinct outcomes of location-specific social processes. Longitudinal trends (1968-2001) in county suicide rates demonstrate a relatively recent change in the direction of the rural-urban suicide differential within the study region. Starting in the mid 1990's this study shows total, male, and white-male suicide rates are disproportionately higher for rural compared to urban counties. Descriptive analyses further indicates a high level of significant variation in predictor variables across rural and urban counties. Regression analyses show a mixed pattern of significant associations between predictor variables for both rural and urban counties, but do not indicate clear support for a single theoretical explanation of elevated rural suicide rates. Specifically this study finds rural county white male suicide rates are primarily explained by the older age structure of rural counties. Economic dependency on farming and mining were associated with higher rural suicide rates. Findings also indicate a significant reduction in rural suicide rates associated with elevated and rising levels of household income inequality.



Document Availability at the Time of Submission

Release the entire work immediately for access worldwide.

Committee Chair

Nicholas Pedriana



Included in

Sociology Commons