Sui­cides in­crease among Amer­i­can mid­dle-aged adults

USA TODAY Weekend Extra - - FRONT PAGE - From Staff Re­ports

Sui­cide has in­creased in nearly ev­ery U.S. state since the late 1990s and now claims about 45,000 lives a year.

But the deaths of chef An­thony Bour­dain, 61, and fash­ion de­signer Kate Spade, 55, last week un­der­score the grow­ing sui­cide rate among an un­ex­pected group: mid­dle-aged adults.

Sui­cide rates for the over­all pop­u­la­tion have climbed nearly 30% since 1999, with in­creased rates among men and women and all eth­nic groups. Mid­dle-aged adults had the most sui­cides and largest rate in­creases, the Cen­ters for Dis­ease Con­trol and Preven­tion said in a re­port pub­lished Thurs­day.

Ear­lier re­search showed that sui­cides among mid­dle-aged peo­ple climbed at a higher rate than the over­all pop­u­la­tion. Sui­cide among men 45 to 64 in­creased 43% from 1999 through 2014. The sui­cide rate uptick was even higher among women in that age group, though more men died from sui­cide, the CDC said.

While rates have been his­tor­i­cally higher among el­derly adults grap­pling with chronic dis­ease or so­cial iso­la­tion, the rise among mid­dle-aged adults is a pub­lic health con­cern, said Maria Oquendo, chair of the Univer­sity of Penn­syl­va­nia’s psy­chi­a­try de­part­ment.

Oquendo said the trend is puz­zling, in part, be­cause peo­ple at this age are of­ten more fi­nan­cially se­cure and have ex­pe­ri­ence solv­ing life prob­lems.

“We have con­cerns re­lated to the opi­oid epi­demic,” she said. “It doesn’t seem to me that the opi­oid epi­demic ex­plains the en­tire thing.”

The CDC said nearly half of peo­ple who died by sui­cide had a known men­tal health con­di­tion. But those with­out a known men­tal health con­di­tion were more likely to strug­gle with a sig­nif­i­cant life event.

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