Just one death by suicide to one-far-too-many, but the increasing rate at which Americans are killing themselves is deeply disturbing.
Suicide now accounts for more deaths in the U.S. than car crashes, according to a new report by the centre for Disease Control. The study was published Thursday, May 2, in the CDC journal Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.
For reasons still unclear, the biggest increases by age group occurred among middle-aged Americans, with dramatic increases of about 50% among those between the ages of 50 and 60.
“Suicide is a tragedy that is far too common,” CDC Director Tom Frieden said in a press release. “The stories we hear of those who are impacted by suicide are very difficult. This report highlights the need to expand our knowledge of risk factors so we can build on prevention programs that prevent suicide.”
Native Americans saw a shocking 65% increase in suicides, and non-Hispanic whites followed with a 40% increase.
Hanging and suffocation cases increased by just over 80%. Along with firearms, those remain a preferred method among men, while women use guns and poisoning to kill themselves.
The economic downturn may have something to do with the increase in the suicide rate, the report says. Suicide rates tend to rise and fall along with economic cycles.
It may also have something to do with the historically high rates of suicide among the baby boomer generation — who are now in their 50s and 60s — as well as the increased availability of prescription drugs commonly used in suicide.
While successful suicide prevention efforts have focused on young people and the elderly, middle-aged Americans are often overlooked and may be especially vulnerable in a turbulent economy. The CDC report suggests numerous strategies, including providing family support, increased access to mental health treatment, and eliminating the stigma associated with seeking help.
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