Just last week we told you how researchers are noticing a trend among boomers for what they call, “late stage” divorce – marriages ending after 30 or 40 years. Now the Centers for Disease Control reports another boomer trend in the making: suicide.
For many years, it was Americans older than 80 who were most likely to end their own lives. But the CDC numbers show that all changed in 2006 when the suicide rate for men and women between 45 and 54 surpassed that of older Americans. Now they’ve released the figures from 2007 and again, the 45-to-54 age group has the dubious distinction of being the suicide leader. We’re almost afraid to see what the figures from 2008 to 2010 will show.
What’s behind this unsettling rise in middle-age suicide? The NYTimes asked Dr. Paula Clayton of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention for an opinion:
Researchers are puzzled by the increase, but Dr. Clayton said the rise in suicide among Americans born in the 1950s and 1960s was probably a result of a combination of factors, including easier access to guns and prescription drugs and what may be a higher incidence of depression among baby boomers.
While this trend is cause for concern, we do need to put some perspective on these numbers: the 2007 numbers show a suicide rate of 17.6 per every 100,000 men and women aged 45-54. So, it isn’t like every other boomer is choosing to kill himself (or herself – but regardless of age, men are more likely than women to commit suicide).
Let’s hope mental health experts can quickly get a handle on this situation and initiate a prevention effort geared specifically to baby boomers. This is one area where no generation wants to be the trend-setter.