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CDC Reports Suicide Rates Up For Middle-Aged Americans

Update Date: May 02, 2013 12:59 PM EDT
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Medical professionals have stated that suicidal tendencies can be hard to screen. Not only do people avoid seeing doctors, others might be in denial of their own depression. On top of that, studies have shown that a lot of people who are believed to be suicidal by their doctors do not end up killing themselves. Due to the difficulty in being able to measure depression and risk of suicide, many people are shocked when a loved one decides to take his or her life. According to a new report presented by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), suicide rates amongst the middle aged have been rapidly increasing over the past few years and there are currently no evidence as to why this is happening.

The number of deaths resulting from suicides in 2010 was 38,364, which surpassed the number of deaths, 33,687, from car accidents. The CDC report found that from 1999 to 2010, the number of suicides increased by 28 percent in middle aged Americans. The rate in 1999 for people between the ages of 35 and 64 who committed suicide was 13.7 per 100,000 people, which jumped to 17.6 per 100,000 people nearly a decade later. The largest jump in rates happened in people between 55 to 59 years old. Despite this report, the executive director of the American Association of Suicidology, Lanny Berman, was not surprised.

"We have known about this trend for a while now, the CDC is merely documenting it," he said. Berman was not a part of the study. "I and most of my colleagues are dumbfounded to explain it. The best we can come up with is maybe this is the group most likely affected by the recession and unemployment and [home] foreclosure. It affected suicide rates both nationally and internationally."

Although the recession and financial complications could have been contributing factors to suicide, the report and the association cannot conclude anything since there is no evidence currently available. The deputy associate director for science in the Division of Violence Prevention at the CDC's National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, Thomas Simon, also gave his own theory in an attempt to explain this trend.

"Historically, we have seen high rates of suicide in that [group of baby boomers] at earlier ages in their lives in adolescence and young adulthood," he stated. "Another explanation is the increase in prescription drug abuse and prescription overdose deaths and the risk of suicide that comes from prescription drug overdose and abuse."

The report found that the largest jumps occurred in the Caucasian population, which was up 40 percent and the American Indian/ Alaska Natives population, which was up 65 percent. The suicide rates increased throughout the entire nation, with 39 states reporting significant increases.

The report, which did not find any changes of suicide rates for the age groups, 10 to 34 and 65 and above will be published in the CDC's May 3 issue of Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

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