Suicide rates among middle-aged adults on the rise

Local - 5/7/2013 6:34 PM by Rebecca Turco
BECKLEY - A recent report for the Center of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows suicide rates among middle-aged adults are on the rise.



The study, titled "Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report," noted more adults aged 35 to 64 committed suicide during the past decade. The annual, age-adjusted suicide rate for this age group increased 28.4 percent, from 13.7 suicides per 100,000 people in 1999 to 17.6 in 2010.

Board-certified Psychiatrist Ahmed Faheem said these people are the ones who should be contributing to society most, not taking their lives. "This is where the people are supposed to be working, providing, having a family, being a very constructive member of the society," he said. "So it is a very disturbing trend."

Drug overdose is one of the leading methods of suicide for this middle-aged group. "Once they are in that frame of mind, they are getting depressed and they are pessimistic and they are down, they avoid to substance abuse and alcohol," explained Faheem.

The two other leading methods of suicide for the studied age group are firearms and suffocation (predominantly hanging).

Although there is no single explanation for this rise in the suicide rate, the authors of the report suggest a contributing factor could be the economy, since higher suicide rates are often observed during times of economic hardship. "When the economy is not doing very well, then you have a lot of people out of a job," explained Smith. "And when you're out of a job, you can despair very easily. You can see no way out."

Faheem and Smith agreed these suicide statistics could be even higher, since many suicides and suicidal thoughts go unreported. "There is still a vast majority there who are suffering in silence and who believe there is no hope for them, who are just surrounded by this cloud," said Faheem.

"Nobody wants to report that a loved one took their own life, so a lot of times you don't see the actual numbers," said Smith. "So I think these statistics are even low, as alarming as they are."

Faheem and Smith urge if you or someone you know is having suicidal thoughts, talk with a loved one or seek counseling.

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