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August 30, 2015

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Nevadans’ well-being ranks high, but so does suicide rate, report finds

According to a new study, if you live in Nevada, there’s a good chance you have a good overall well-being. But that might not necessarily be good for others.

A study by researchers at Hamilton College in New York City showed a state’s increased level of happiness might also be linked to the state’s increased rate of suicides.

Using data from the Behavioral Risk-Factor Surveillance System and the U.S. Census Bureau, the study ranks Nevada 10th among states on a list of overall good well-being. At the same time, Nevada's suicide rate ranks third in the country.

Other states on the good well-being list have similar showings: Wyoming is ranked fifth on both lists, Colorado is third on overall good well-being while ranked sixth for suicide. According to the data, Utah is ranked first for well-being but ranked ninth for its suicide rate.

Conversely, the study shows that states with the lowest well-being ratings also tended to have lower suicide rates.

The 10 states with the lowest well-being ratings are Kentucky, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Indiana, Missouri, Ohio, New York, Massachusetts, Michigan and Rhode Island. Only one state from that list -- West Virginia -- also ranked among the Top 10 for its rate of suicide (at No. 8).

The study was accepted for publication in the Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization.

Sonja Lyubomirsky, a psychology professor at the University of California, Riverside, told the Associated Press that people in happy states may be put off by others who are doing better than them.

“If you're unhappy there, you conclude, 'something must be really wrong with me,' or 'nothing will make me happy,' so you're more likely to get depressed and take your life," Lyubomirsky said.

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