On Thursday, the US government reported a sharp increase in the middle age suicide rate over the past decade. Over the past 10 years, Americans have suffered through a mortgage crisis, and a recession, so some are not surprised to see the 28 percent climb in suicides.
According to data, the trend was at its highest among Caucasian men and women in middle age. The suicide rate among this group climbed 40 percent in ten years.
The increase in this group seems to stand in stark contrast to rates among older and younger age groups, which stayed steady through the same time. There were also remarkably few changes among both women and men in the same age group of other ethnicities.
Many are questioning why the rise of suicides among white men and women between the ages of 35- 65. Some argue that factors such as the recession had a strong emotional impact on whites of this age because they tend not to be as connected to churches and their extended families as Hispanics and blacks generally are.
Although the recession technically only lasted about 18 months, polls show that most Americans continued to worry about the housing market and a lack of available jobs. Even now, many are worried about their finances and the tough US economy.
According to the coordinator for violence prevention at the Michigan Department of Community Health, Pat Smith, the recession hit states that were heavy in manufacturing particularly hard, and this may have pushed many that were already troubled over the brink. She believes that the inability to find work or having to settle for a lower paying job with fewer perks may have just been one more thing that piled on top of many other problems.
Others theorize that Caucasian baby boomers have had a tendency toward suicide and depression in general and this trend has continued into middle age. Between the years of 1999 and 2010, suicides rose from being the eighth to the fourth leading cause of death among middle aged Americans. It now sits behind accidents, heart disease and cancer.
Until now, suicide prevention programs have primarily focused on the elderly and teenagers, but with the startling data, many are starting to turn their sights toward helping the middle age group. The new report from the CDC is being referred to by many as the first one that illustrates this disturbing trend. It is also one of the first to examine the geographic and ethnic breakdowns of these suicides.
What many consider the most disturbing is that suicide rates have climbed significantly in 39 of the 50 states. While the West and the South reported the highest numbers, it is not clear exactly why the increase in these parts of the country. Some fear that cultural differences in these states encourage an unwillingness to seek assistance when people are going through difficult times.
Experts agree that the most crucial thing people who are experiencing emotional issues can do is to seek counseling so they can learn to better deal with their problems and not feel that ending their lives is the only option.