Suicide Rates Increase in 35 to 64 Year Olds

suicideSuicide claims the lives of more than 30, 000 Americans each year, and the rates seem to be quite age-specific.[1] In the past decade, there has been a substantial increase in the suicide rate for people between the ages of 35 and 64—28 percent, to be exact.1 Even more startling, the increase in suicide rates in males aged 50 to 59 was 48 percent, and the rate increase in women aged 60 to 64 was 60 percent.1 However, the same has not been found in other age groups. For example, in people between the ages of 10 to 34, there has not been any increase.1 Also, in people aged 65 and older, the rate has stayed pretty steady.1 In fact, it has even slightly decreased some years.1

There was no single suicide method associated with the increase in suicide rates among those who are middle-aged. However, the three most common methods for completing suicide were by firearm, suffocation, and overdose.1 Fifty percent of men completed suicide by firearm, and 42 percent of women completed suicide by overdose.1

An increasing public health concern, suicide results in more death than motor vehicle accidents.1 However, there are several factors that may have led to this startling increase. For example, the economic pressures of the past decade have been a huge influence.1 Also, opiate pain medicines have become more readily available, and their overdose is quite lethal.1 It is true that musculoskeletal disorders, which manifest as chronic pain, are large contributors to the disability of those between the ages of 35 and 64.1

However, a large majority of suicides—more than 90 percent, in fact—are associated with major psychiatric disorders.1 While other stressors can contribute to this decision, untreated and severe mental disorders are often the cause. Research has found that many people who take their own lives do so during an episode of severe clinical depression.1 Unfortunately, depressive disorders can often go unnoticed by healthcare workers, even though the diagnosis can be easily determined in primary care settings.1 When recognized, although treatment can be started and followed-up on, sometimes the emotional pain experienced during a depressive episode is too much to bear, and despite the best efforts of the healthcare team, can still end in suicide.1 Therefore, aggressive treatment, such as hospitalization, should be used to decrease that risk.1

Also, alcohol and other substance use disorders are associated with an increased risk of suicide in 35- to 64-year-olds.1 In patients with these disorders, addressing it properly is required in order to decrease the risk.1

This alarming increase in suicide rates among 35- to 64-year-olds should remind the community to be alert of depressive symptoms and substance use in family, friends, and colleagues.1 Symptoms include withdrawn behavior, change in self-esteem, decreased interest in pleasurable activities, unintended changes in weight or appetite, and changes in sleep patterns.1 If a person shows any symptoms, he or she needs to seek psychiatric help immediately. It could be the difference in life and death.

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