Suicide rate jumps among adults aged 35-64

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In 2009 the number of deaths from suicide surpassed the number of deaths related to motor vehicle accidents. Based on prior studies of suicide, the focus of prevention has been on youths and older adults. The 2009 study indicates that death from suicide is on the rise for middle-aged adults. The CDC undertook a study to investigate the increase in suicide using data from the National Vital Statistics System from 1999-2010. The study examined the data by sex, age, race/ethnicity, state and region of residence and mechanism of suicide. The results are an alarming increase of 28.4% in suicide among 35-34 year olds from 13.7 per 100,000 in 1999 to 17.6% per 100,000 in 2010. American Indian and Alaskan Natives experienced the greatest increase of 62.5% and whites increased by 40.4%. In terms of mechanism of death: death by suffocation (hanging) increased by 81.3%, followed by poisoning at 24.4% and firearms at 14.4%.

The trend appears to be influenced by the recent economic downturn and its effects on people in the 35-64 year old bracket and the increase in deaths by prescription opioid overdose. Another factor to consider is the “baby boomer” impact on this group who had an effect on the increase in suicide.

Certainly, the increase in suicide requires our response and further study of the causative factors. We need to look at: economic challenges that people face, including job loss; the increase in intimate partner abuse and violence; the stress related to being a caregiver for a disabled or aging family member; the role of substance abuse; undiagnosed, untreated and under-treated mental illness; the impact of chronic health problems and living with a disability.

Suicide is not an isolated event. It occurs at the end of road related to life’s difficulties and can be addressed through pro-active mental health treatment and focusing the resources and supports the person needs to prevent their consideration of suicide.

Click here to read the CDC report on the problem.

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