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Suicide Hotlines Report Middle Aged Adult Volume Increase

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The rate of suicide in the United States is increasing for the first time in a decade according to a new report from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health's Center for Injury Research and Policy. The rate is increasing largely due to completed suicides among middle-aged white men and women. Researchers found that white women made up the largest increase in suicides, although white men still make up the largest number of people who kill themselves.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) says that the suicide rate among people who are middle-aged (age 45-54) is increasing faster than any other age group and they need help. CDC cannot speculate why there is an increase for this age range however; suicide hotlines throughout the country are reporting a large increase of volume. They state the calls are seen as evidence that desperate people are reaching out for help. It appears that the economic crisis plays a role in the increase in calls to these suicide hotlines. .

The new figures show a major shift from young adults and the elderly having the highest risk for suicide to middle aged white adults. Suicide prevention has not focused on middle-aged adults, and nobody knows why more are taking their lives. About 90% of adults who commit suicide have a diagnosable mental disorder however, in today’s times, divorces and financial stress seems to be pushing people into depression as well as taking care of aging parents, coping with substance abuse, despair and unemployment is pushing people to their limit.

Suicide risk factors can include a previous suicide attempt, mental or physical illness, a family history of mental illness as well as a history of suicide, a sense of hopelessness, and stress and worry.

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Mark Kaplan, a suicide researcher at Portland State University states that “The middle-aged are often overlooked. These statistics should serve as a wake-up call.” Kaplan said.

Roughly 32,000 suicides occur each year and experts believe suicides are under-reported. Researchers feel that doctors may not be paying enough attention to the mental health of their middle-aged patients to spot the risk of suicide.

Because suicide is on the increase in middle aged adults, mental health agencies and advocates will begin working on programs and prevention for this age group. Suicide can be preventable.

If you know someone who is suicidal contact your mental health agency.

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