Artie Lange Suicide Attempt Highlights Growing Problem

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Artie Lange, the sharp-tongued radio personality who works alongside Howard Stern, is recovering in the hospital after a suicide attempt. The 42-year-old Lange reportedly stabbed himself nine times in his Hoboken, New Jersey, apartment.

Lange, who has a history of drug addiction, joined the original cast of the comedy show MADtv in 1995. His use of cocaine during his time with the show lead to the producers refusing to renew his contract for his third season. He joined the staff of the Howard Stern show in October 2001, and has been on and off the show several times in the intervening years. He most recently took leave from the show on December 12, 2009.

Lange’s suicide attempt highlights the growing problem with suicide in the United States. A 2008 report from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health’s Center for Injury Research and Policy noted that the rate of suicide in the United States increased for the first time in ten years, between 1999 and 2005. The increase was due mainly to a rise in suicides among whites aged 40 to 64. The overall rate of suicide rose 0.7 percent, with a 2.7 percent annual increase among middle-aged white men and a 3.9 percent annual increase among middle-aged women. The report also noted that use of firearms was the main method of suicide, followed by suffocation/hanging, and poisoning.

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The authors of the study noted that their findings highlight a change in the epidemiology of suicide. While adolescents, young adults, and elderly white men have been the focus of suicide prevention programs, “this research tells us that we need to refocus our resources to develop prevention programs for men and women in their middle years,” according to study co-author Susan P. Baker, MPH, a professor with the Bloomberg School’s Center for Injury Research and Policy.

According to the National Center for Health Statistics, suicide ranks eleventh as the cause of death in the United States. Nearly 600,000 people visited the emergency department for self-inflicted injuries in 2006. The total number of deaths from suicide was 33,300 in 2006, include 16,883 from gunshots and 7,491 from suffocation.

The National Institute of Mental Health notes that men and the elderly are more likely to have fatal attempts at suicide than are women and younger people. Risk factors for nonfatal suicide attempts by adults include alcohol and other substance abuse, depression and other mental disorders, separation, and divorce.

Artie Lange’s suicide attempt calls attention to a growing problem in the United States. The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention notes that most suicidal individuals give some warning of their intentions. More than 90 percent of people who commit suicide are suffering from one or more psychiatric disorders, including major depression (especially when combined with alcohol and/or drug abuse), alcohol abuse and dependence, drug abuse and dependence, eating disorders, post traumatic stress disorder, and bipolar depression.

SOURCES:
American Foundation for Suicide Prevention
Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health press release, Oct. 21, 2008
National Center for Health Statistics
National Institute of Mental Health
New York Post, Jan. 7, 2010

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