Suicides increase among American middle-aged adults
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.