Suicide spikes for U.S. middle-aged

February 19, 2008

A five-year study on suicide in the United States found a 20 percent increase in the suicide rate among 45-to-54-year-olds, out-pacing any other age group.

The suicide rates for middle-aged U.S. residents jumped 20 percent, while the suicide rates for teenagers increased only by 2 percent from 1999 to 2004, The New York Times said Tuesday.

Suicide rates for men in the middle-age group increased about 15 percent and for woman about 29 percent in the five-year period. There were more than U.S. suicides in 2004.

Experts say there is a "social-bias" as much of the suicide prevention efforts focus on youth prevention programs. Dr. Eric Caine, a leading suicide prevention official, said there is no "psychological autopsy" making the reasons behind the spike in suicide rates difficult to assess.

U.S. health officials, however, point to the rampant use and abuse of prescription and illegal drugs as the cause for at least a portion of the increased suicide rates.

Other health officials say the increased rate among middle-aged woman may be linked to the drop in the use of hormone replacement therapy in the post-menopausal years.

A study in 1989, however, seems to offer a more general explanation for the rise, saying the changing shape of the U.S. social structure, with family and friends increasingly on the move, disrupts the social support networks of those in the baby boom generation.

Copyright 2008 by United Press International

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4 / 5 (1) Feb 19, 2008
Seems to me that the abuse of drugs would be one sign of trouble in that a depressed person might try to self-medicate to escape the effects of depression. That this activity contributes to a higher suicide rate is not surprising. Neither is the attempt by U.S. health officials to make it seem like less of a problem by trying to shift the blame to the sufferers.

With the poor state of U.S. health care and the effect of lower earnings due to a bad economy I can see how this would drive some over the edge. This is also the age where parents have passed away and friends start dying and the effects of isolation start to kick in. Middle age, for many in the U.S., is a very rough place to be.

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