Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Type



Eberly College of Arts and Sciences


Geology and Geography

Committee Chair

Robert Q Hanham


Significant economic changes have occurred over the past thirty years that have altered the geoeconomic landscape of the United States. Although a considerable literature examines economic impacts that have resulted from these changes, there has been less work devoted to understanding the extraeconomic affects of economic change. Many places in the U.S. have experienced large-scale employment and industry losses over the past thirty years. At the same time some places have experienced rapid industrial and employment growth. Together these events represent the continued process of geographic uneven development and provide the context for examining potential affects that economic conditions and elements of change may have on local populations.;Some of the potential extraeconomic affects of large-scale economic changes include increasing levels of stress, anxiety, depression, and generally poor mental health among populations who suffer adversity from these changes. Increasing incidence of suicide is a possible outcome of these processes of economic change. This dissertation examines geographic variability in rates and trends in suicide for two distinct time periods 1980-1990 and 1990-2000 in the Appalachian region. Over the period 1980 through 2000 a number of broad swings have occurred in the U.S. economy; an economic recession in the early 1980s, post-recession structural adjustment in the mid-to-late 1980s, another economic recession in the early 1990s, followed by several years of economic growth through the end of the 1990s.;Associations between aggregate rates of suicide, trends in suicide, socioeconomic setting (context), and industrial changes are examined among labor market areas in the Appalachian region. The first part of the analysis identifies and describes geographic variability in rates and trends of suicide along with corresponding measures of socioeconomic context and industrial change. The second part of the analysis examines statistical associations between aggregate rates of suicide, trends in suicide, and measures of socioeconomic and industrial change.;The results suggest that there are persistent, positive associations between rurality (measured by percent urban population and population density) and aggregate rates of suicide for both age-groups and time-periods. The models for suicide trends also suggest a persistent association with measures of rurality, although the changing direction of the association is more difficult to assess and may be complicated by suggestions that decreases in rates of suicide in the 1990s were influenced by increased use of antidepressant medications. The models used in this analysis, in general perform poorly, in terms of identifying associations between specific measures of socioeconomic context, industrial change, aggregate suicide rates, and trends in suicide.