Criminology Forum: Shannon Monnat, Ph.D.

Deaths of Despair from the Cities to the Hollers: Understanding Spatial Differences in U.S. Drug, Alcohol, and Suicide Mortality
When Feb 27, 2017
from 12:15 PM to 01:00 PM
Where 406 Oswald Tower
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Americans are killing themselves at an alarming rate. Since 1999, nearly 2 million people living in the U.S. died from causes related to drugs, alcohol, and suicide. Nationwide, the mortality rate from drug poisoning, alcohol poisoning, and suicide has increased by 63 percent since 1999. Most of this increase was driven by a surge in prescription opioid and heroin overdoses, but overdoses from other drugs, suicides by means other than drugs (especially guns), and alcohol-induced deaths also increased over this period. Drug, alcohol, and suicide deaths are not a random collection; they often derive from depression, distress, hopelessness, and chronic pain. Particularly striking is that drug, alcohol, and suicide mortality has increased during a period of declining mortality for other major causes of death, including heart disease, stroke, most cancers, and motor vehicle accidents. There are pronounced spatial differences in drug, alcohol, and suicide mortality rates. Despite documentation of this spatial variation and clear clustering of high (and low) mortality rates, our understanding of these spatial differences is limited. Some have described drug, alcohol, and suicide mortality as “deaths of despair” and suggested that they are linked to economic dislocation and place-level downward mobility, but this contention has yet to be empirically tested. Accordingly, this presentation will describe spatial differences in county-level drug, alcohol, and suicide mortality rates and identify the population, economic, social, and infrastructural factors associated with these spatial differences.

BIO: Shannon Monnat is Assistant Professor of Rural Sociology, Demography, and Sociology and a Research Associate in the Population Research Institute at Penn State. She is also a Fellow at the Carsey School of Public Policy at the University of New Hampshire. Her research explores how economic, social, institutional, and policy factors are related to health and health disparities in the U.S.

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