Researchers in Utah believe they have shed light on a possible reason that a strip of states in the West have earned the the morbid nickname "The Suicide Belt."
Suicide rates in Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah, and Wyoming are nearly one and a half times higher than the rest of the country
Researchers from the University of Utah think thin air might be a factor.
In a study using lab rats, they found having lower oxygen levels results in low serotonin, which is commonly known as the the brain's "happy hormone." The lead author of the study notes rat brains are very different from human brains, and that the effect was seen only in female brains and not male. but despite those difference he still believes this finding could be a sign that elevation and depression are somehow connected.
According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, the suicide rate in The Suicide Belt is roughly 18 for every ten thousand people, compared to the national rate of 12 for every ten thousand.