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Suicide on the Rise Among Middle-Aged Americans

Natalie Staats Reiss, Ph.D. Updated: Dec 14th 2007

Think that suicide is only an adolescent problem? Think again.

New statistics on the number of people committing suicide were recently released by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). These data suggest that, contrary to popular belief, the suicide rate among people who are middle-aged (age 45-54) is increasing faster than any other age group. The number of middle-aged Americans who committed suicide rose by an astonishing rate of 20% between 1999 and 2004. In contrast, the national suicide rate increased by about 4%.

The CDC does not collect detailed information that would allow them to explain why this increase has occurred. However, the editor of the report suggests that an increase in drug use and abuse may be to blame. We know that drug use and abuse can cause people to take risks and engage in impulsive behavior (such as committing suicide when they feel hopeless or helpless). Drug use can also increase feelings of depression and anxiety, which increase a person's risk for committing suicide. In addition, drug use and abuse can create financial stressors, negatively impact interpersonal relationships and social support systems, and impair work performance, all of which can also raise the risk of suicidal behavior.

I hope this data serves as a wakeup call. To me, this is an absolutely shocking statistic and yet another reason to push for adequate research and funding for suicide prevention (for all ages), and adequate mental health insurance coverage for all Americans.

You can read more information in our article on suicide and self-harm by clicking here: http://www.mentalhelp.net/poc/center_index.php?id=9&cn=9

More information about the CDC's report on suicide statistics can be found at: http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm5649a1.htm

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