Suicide Rate for Middle-Age Americans Rising

Suicide Rate for Middle-Age Americans Rising

Drug-Poisoning-199x300The suicide rate for both men and women has risen substantially over the past decade, with an alarming increase in suicides by middle-age Americans, according to a new report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Suicide deaths now surpass those from motor vehicle accidents.

While firearms remain the leading mechanism for suicide, researchers noted a rise in intentional overdoses associated with prescription opioid painkillers.

“Suicide is a tragedy that is far too common,” said CDC Director Tom Frieden, MD. “The stories we hear of those who are impacted by suicide are very difficult. This report highlights the need to expand our knowledge of risk factors so we can build on prevention programs that prevent suicide.”

While most suicide research and prevention efforts have focused historically on youth and the elderly, the report’s findings suggest that efforts should also address the needs of middle-aged persons.

The CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report said that for men between the age of 50 and 59, the suicide rate has nearly doubled from 1999 to 2010. For women between the ages of 60 to 64, the suicide rate rose nearly 60%.

Suicide rates for people 35 to 64 years old were also up, but by smaller amounts — 32% women and  27% for men.

Researchers suspect a major factor behind the increase in suicides among middle-aged adults was  the recent economic downturn. They also observed that the “baby boomer” generation now approaching middle age had unusually high suicide rates during their adolescent years.

“Prevention efforts are particularly important for this cohort because of its size, history of elevated suicide rates, and movement toward older adulthood, the period of life that has traditionally been associated with the highest suicide rates,” the study notes.

The suicide rate for people aged 10 to 34, and those 65 years and older, did not change significantly during this period, the report said.

Over the same period, the method of suicide changed drastically. While firearm and poisoning rates increased significantly, suffocation (predominantly hanging) was up more than 80% among both men and women aged 35 to 64 years.

Researchers say this increasing trend is particularly troubling because a large proportion of suicide attempts by suffocation result in death, suggesting a need for increased public awareness of suicide risk factors.

“The findings in this report suggest it is important for suicide prevention strategies to address the types of stressors that middle-aged Americans might be facing and that can contribute to suicide risk,” said Linda C. Degutis, director of the CDC’s National Center for Injury Prevention and Control.

The CDC recommends that suicide prevention strategies include enhancing social support and community connectedness, improving access to mental health and preventive services, and reducing the stigma and barriers associated with seeking help.

Other strategies involve programs to help those at increased risk of suicide, such as those struggling with financial challenges, job loss, intimate partner problems or violence, stress of caregiving for children and aging parents, substance abuse, and serious or chronic health problems.

Authored by: Richard Lenti

There are 4 comments for this article
  1. Janice Reynolds at 12:51 pm

    It is not suprising that so far the comments have come from people who deal with persisent pain. This report, as a similar one which looked at an increase in Baby Boomer suicide go with as a possible cause “the pain killer epidemi” They do this as a suggestion because there is no research to support this conclusion. “Researchers noted a rise in intentional overdoses associated with prescription opioid painkillers” is used with out noting the strengh of that evidence or where it would be ranked against other methods of suicide. The implication is just as strong that an increase in suicides may be caused by people unable or no longer able to have their pain controlled. That suggestion is just as valid if not more so than their theories.

  2. Anne at 9:49 am

    Donna, the government doesn’t care about those of us in pain. They just want to control everything. Everything is about money when it comes down to it. They want to take our pain meds away because teens are overdosing on them. Well, the teens are getting the meds out of their own parent’s medicine cabinets. They want to blame the drug, not the person taking the drug. They always fail to admit that most of the overdosers were consuming massive amounts of alcohol too. Why IS alcohol so easily obtained anyway? It’s the nastiest DRUG out there. These people that are overdosing are going to do whatever drug they can get ahold of. Stopping pain meds isn’t going to change a thing. Its the people NOT the drugs!!! If they stop our pain meds the true junkies will just move to street drugs and if they think people are dying now…..They just don’t realize what they’re doing. Pain meds are far safer because of non tampering, being “stepped on” (whatever they are cut with) etc. Street drugs are far more dangerous. Forgive them Lord (the fda and dea) as they know not what they do. If they would only stop to ponder the future and what messing with pain medications will actually cause. MASSIVE street drug sales are heading this way and many, many more deaths from the sales of them.

  3. NOTSONUTSO. at 5:02 pm

    I’m 54 & a chronic pain patient. Every day I pray I will get cancer…at least there would be an end in sight. I made a half-hearted suicidal attempt late last year.

  4. Donna Ratliff at 4:47 pm

    I won’t be surprised if the rate increases in the next few years if they look at the situation they are creating. The economy is proven to cause death and for some, pain medicines are easiest way to achieve this. If pain medicines are not available then guns will be next for use. Suicide can’t stopped by someone that seriously wants to end their life, just as addicts can’t stopped either.
    ** If pain patients are left to suffer with no medicine to help dull the pain so they can live, then I know plenty of people that will chose not to live.
    So what is it that government wants? Something has to give here. This access issue can’t continue as it is any longer, especially in Florida.
    I am fed up with hearing about an artificial epidemic. 2008 caused a ton of problems but we can’t allow legit patients to suffer with pain because of it. Also pain patients can continue to work longer if they have their pain dulled by pain medicine. No access? What choices do they have?