Suicide continues to be a leading cause of death among adolescents and teenagers, but a recent jump in suicides among middle-aged adults gives researchers a new cause for concern.
For 30 years, suicide rates in the United States have shown a steady rise across almost every demographic group in the country.
According to a new report from the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention, the suicide rate has increased 24 percent since 1999. Researchers found that the rate increased even faster after 2006, doubling the annual rate of increase going back to 1999.
Katherine Hempstead, director of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, told the LA Times, “The overall massiveness of the increase is to me the biggest shocker – the fact that it touched pretty much every group.”
The rate was up for all men and women between the ages of 10 and 74. The largest increase was for females 10 to 15 years old and for men 45 to 64 years old. Almost 30 in 1,000 men 45-64 years of age committed suicide in 2014, a 43 percent increase over 1999.
Men are approximately three times more like than women to commit suicide, the rate of increase in suicides by women increased much faster ( by 45 percent) between 1999 and 2014 compare to men (16 percent increase.)
In 2014, 55.4 percent of men chose to die using firearms. In 1999, that figure was 61.7 percent.
For women, 34.1 percent chose poisoning as their method of suicide. In 1999, the leading method used by women was 36.9 percent compared to 36 percent who chose poison.
Researchers cite economic problems, especially since the economic crash of 2008 as a probable reason for the increase in suicides, especially for middle-aged white people. The lack of preparedness for retirement among baby boomers and the lack of transferable skills in a rapidly shifting employment market are among a list of possible challenges.
Julie Phillips, a professor of sociology at Rutgers, said social changes that lead to social isolation may also increase suicide risks. The virtual reality of online connections does not always provide a sufficient substitute for human contact.
Better mental health services with better access could help prevent suicides, especially during predictable periods of patterns of increased depression.
Dr Jane Pearson, chairwoman of the National Institute of Mental Health’s Suicide Research Consortium, said, “We have more and more effective treatments, but we have to figure out how to bake them into health care systems so they are used more automatically. “We’ve got bits and pieces, but we haven’t really put them all together yet.”
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