• The Mystery Around Middle-Age Suicides By Sumathi Reddy

The Mystery Around Middle-Age Suicides By Sumathi Reddy

The Mystery Around Middle-Age Suicides By Sumathi Reddy

The death rate is climbing for those between 45 and 64, new CDC data show

June 14, 2018

The recent suicides of two well-known figures— celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain and fashion designer Kate Spade— underscore a sobering reality: Suicide rates for people in middle age are higher than almost any other age group in the U.S. and rising quickly.

…Experts say mental illness, substance abuse, loneliness and financial and relationship problems all have contributed to suicide rates increasing. But it’s unclear why suicide appears to peak in middle-aged people.

“Life satisfaction hits an all-time low in middle age. This dip in happiness is known as the U curve,” says Samantha Boardman, a clinical instructor in medicine and psychiatry at Weill Cornell Medical College in New York City.

“Depression and stress are particularly high in this age group. Juggling responsibilities and managing multiple roles takes a toll and can lead to feeling overwhelmed, a loss of control and despair.”

… The five most common stressors linked to suicide among middle-age adults were problems with intimate partners, job / finances, health, family and criminal / legal problems, according to a study in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

The CDC found the suicide rate for women 45 to 64 climbed to 9.9 deaths per 100,000 people in 2016, up from 6.2 in 2000. For men in that age group over that time, the suicide rate rose to 29.1 deaths per 100,000 in 2016, up from 21.3.

[According to one assistance professor interviewed], … if people have lived with untreated depression over time, it can implode in their 40s, 50s, or 60s.

… For accomplished or well-known people, isolation can be a risk factor, she says, “Social connection is one of the biggest antidotes to suicide,” she says. “I think it can be pretty isolating  to be a celebrity, where outside people may seek social opportunities rather than social connection.”

Anne Case, a professor of economics and public affairs at Princeton University, says the demographic group really driving middle-age suicide rates is white people without a four-year college education. African-Americans have lower suicide rates that haven’t increased, she says.

“We think whites without a B.A. find that they don’t have the same promising future that the generation before them had,” Dr. Case says. “It’s much harder to find a good job, a job with a ladder up.”

Increasing reports of patients experiencing physical pain may also play a role, she says. “We know that pain is a trigger for suicide,” she says.

Jeffrey Lieberman, chairman of psychiatry at Columbia University, says 90% of people who die by suicide have pre-existing mental disorders, whether they have been diagnosed and treated or not.

The top four conditions associated with an increased risk for suicide are depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia and post-traumatic stress disorder.

Another major risk factor for suicide is substance abuse, he says.

… For women, hormonal changes that come with menopause may play a role. Menopause results in a drop in estrogen, which can cause changes in brain function, which not everyone is able to adapt to, he says.

… “People of all levels of success and those who have achieved great success are still at significant risk for having emotional and mental difficulties,” Dr. Burnett-Zeigler says. “Sometimes people who are highly successful also have an increased level  of anxiety around maintaining that level of success, or fear of loss of all that they’ve achieved…”

Free and Confidential:

National Suicide Prevention Hotline and Website, if you need help:

1 – 800 – 273 – TALK (8255)


More on This Blog:

Kate Spade Suicide: Uncovering Gender’s Role in Mental Illness Diagnosis, Treatment

CDC: Suicide Rate On The Rise (2018)

Why Does Being a Woman Put You at Greater Risk of Having Anxiety? by Cari Romm

Female Veterinarians, Through the Use of Euthanasia Drugs, are Committing Suicide in Record Numbers

The Rise of Male Depression: Doctors Warn Masculinity Forces Men Into Loneliness

Why People Kill Themselves. It’s Not Depression by Mike Goulson

Major Depression Diagnoses Up 33 Percent Since 2013, Study Finds

How Reading Crime Novels Could Help Ease the Symptoms of Depression 

The “It’s All In Your Head” Diagnosis Is Still A Danger To Women’s Health

Six Ways Social Media Affects Our Mental Health by A. G. Walton

For Some of Us Running Is the Key To Managing Depression And Anxiety by Scott Douglas

The New Science of Psychedelics (how they’re helping to treat anxiety and depression) – WSJ

1 in 3 Protestant Churchgoers Personally Affected by Suicide

Lost Connections: Uncovering the Real causes of Depression and the Unexpected Solutions by Johann Hari

Sexism Causes DEPRESSION: Playboys Who Want Power Over Women Have Worse Mental Health, Large (2016) Study Reveals

You Can Write Your Way Out of an Emotional Funk. Here’s How. by Susan David

Synthetic ‘Love Hormone’ Could Be Key To Treating Mental Illness

A Rescue Plan For The Anxious Child by Andrea Petersen

For Most, Jesus and the Gospels Are Not the Answer for Depression, Suicide, and Other Mental Health Maladies (Part 1)

Non-Church, Non-Spiritual, or Secular Remedies and Treatments Don’t Always Work





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