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Suicide rates increases on white men between ages 35-64


“Suicide is Painless”“Suicide is Painless” Suicide is Preventable

Part of the “MASH” theme included the words “suicide is painless”.  Whether that’s true or not, I’ll never know, now.

You see a new study shows an increase in the suicide rate of white men between the ages of 35-64 between 1999 and 2010.  Fortunately, I’m 66.  I escaped that one.  I may sound a bit flippant, but this is a serious and growing problem.  The following contains some valuable information that may help you help a family member or friend.

The CDC, which released the study did not research the causes, but pointed out that most suicide prevention programs are aimed at our youth and the elderly.

Since 2009, suicides have taken more lives than automobile accidents in the United States.

The 35-64 age group counted for 57% of all suicides, and the numbers show that in 1999 for every 100,000 people there were 14 suicides, and the number rose to 18 in 2010, according to the CDC.

Native American suicides increased by 65%, from 11 in 100,000 to 19, while suicides by white people increased 40% from 16 in 100,000 to 22.

Although it is evident that the time period spanned the recessionary period, there is no definitive cause for the increases.

The sharpest increase was in the age group of 50-64 year olds, which includes all ethnic backgrounds.  In 2010 the most common method of suicide in those considered middle-aged was by firearm.  They included 48% of the deceased.  The next two most frequently used methods were hanging and drug overdose.

Sadly, the highest rate among any group is Vietnam Veterans.

Eight million Americans report suicidal thoughts, and 1.1 million will attempt suicide. An estimated 38,000 will succeed in killing themselves, according to the CDC. Most are male, by a four to one margin, and are single and lack a college education.  Men are less able to handle crises such as the end of a marriage, or the loss of a job than are women when they become middle-aged.

The way suicides are reported, such as the official cause of death often create inaccuracies.  “It’s vastly underreported,” said Julie Phillips, an associate professor of sociology at Rutgers University who has published research on rising suicide rates. “We know we’re not counting all suicides.”

The reason for the increased numbers may hinge of the large number of “baby boomers” in that age group.

“It is the baby boomer group where we see the highest rates of suicide,” said the C.D.C.’s deputy director, Ileana Arias. “There may be something about that group, and how they think about life issues and their life choices that may make a difference.”

Dr. Arias noted that the higher suicide rates might be due to a series of life and financial circumstances that are unique to the baby boomer generation.

Nancy Berliner, a Boston historian, lost her 58-year-old husband to suicide two years ago.  She said she would like to see more emphasis on cause and prevention. “One suicide can inspire other people, unfortunately, to view suicide as an option,” Ms. Berliner said. “It’s important that society becomes more comfortable with discussing it. Then the people left behind will not have this stigma.”

James Turnage

Columnist-The Guardian Express

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