Log In
Monday 24th October 2016

Surge in middle-aged suicide

19th February 2008

The suicide rate among 45-to-54-year-olds in the United States jumped nearly 20% from 1999-2004, a new five-year analysis by the Federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows, that far outpaces every other age group.


Of the more than 32,000 people who committed suicide in 2004, 14,607 were 40 to 64 years old (6,906 were aged 45-54); 5,198 were over 65; 2,434 were under 21 years old. Among women aged 45-54, the rate leapt 31% , compared with an increase of less than 2 percent for 15-to-19-year-olds - and a drop among people 65 and older. But why?

A prime suspect is the skyrocketing use and abuse of prescription drugs, The New York Times reports. During the same five-year period, there was a staggering increase in the total number of drug overdoses, both intentional and accidental, such as the lethal dose that killed 28-year-old actor Heath Ledger. The lack of concrete research has given rise to all kinds of theories, including a sudden drop in the use of hormone-replacement therapy by menopausal women after health warnings in 2002, higher rates of depression among baby boomers, or a simple statistical fluke.

On the 28.8% rise in the suicide rate among women ages 50-54, Andrew C Leon, a professor of biostatistics in psychiatry at Cornell, suggested that a drop in the use of hormone replacement therapy after 2002 might be implicated. It may be that without the therapy, more women fell into depression, Dr Leon said, but he cautioned this was just speculation.

Despite the sharp rise in suicide among middle-aged women, the total number who died is still relatively small: 834 in the 50-to-54-year-old category in 2004. Over all, four of five people who commit suicide are men. (For men 45 to 54, the five-year rate increase was 15.6%.)


Share this page


There are no comments for this article, be the first to comment!

Post your comment

Only registered users can comment. Fill in your e-mail address for quick registration.

Your email address:

Your comment will be checked by a Healthcare Today moderator before it is published on the site.

Article Information

Title: Surge in middle-aged suicide
Author: Sarah Jackson Han
Article Id: 5725
Date Added: 19th Feb 2008


New York Times

Recent Related Articles

Use of heart surgery research questioned


Add to scrapbook
Show Comments
Add comment
Find all related articles


Mayden - Innovative cloud-based applications for healthcare
© Mayden Foundation 2016