CDC: Suicide Rates Are On The Rise
May 2, 2013

CDC: Suicide Rates Are On The Rise

Brett Smith for — Your Universe Online

Suicide rates are on the rise for middle aged Americans, according to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

In their report, the CDC noted a sharp rise in suicide rates between 1999 and 2010, from 13.7 suicides to 17.6 per 100,000, or an increase of 28 percent.

More Americans now take their own lives than are killed in car accidents. According to CDC statistics, 33,687 people died in car crashes in 2010, while 38,364 committed suicide.

When broken down further by age, the report showed the largest increases in suicide rates were for those between 50 and 54 years old, at 48 percent. The rate for 55- to 59-year-olds increased by 49 percent.

"We have known about this trend for a while now, the CDC is merely documenting it," Lanny Berman, executive director of the American Association of Suicidology, told HealthDay.

"The best we can come up with is maybe this is the group most likely to be affected by the recession and unemployment and [home] foreclosure," he added. "It affected suicide rates both nationally and internationally."

The CDC did not include an economic element to its report; however, Berman speculated future studies may be able to tell if there is a connection.

"All we can guess at now is association," he said.

According to Thomas Simon, deputy associate director at the CDC's National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, the increase could be due to the aging baby boomer demographic, which has shown higher than average suicide rates throughout their history.

"Historically, we have seen high rates of suicide in that [group of people] at earlier ages in their lives in adolescence and young adulthood," he told HealthDay. “Traditionally we have invested in prevention for adolescents and young adults and prevention for older adults. What we are seeing now is suicide is the fourth leading cause of death for the middle-age group.”

Simon added the growing prevalence of anti-depressants and prescription drugs could be responsible for part of the increase as people abuse and overdose on these drugs.

“We need to better understand how to address the needs of middle-aged adults so that we can prevent suicide,” Simon added.

The most common methods of suicide in the study were hanging/suffocation, poisoning and guns. While guns and hanging/suffocation were the most common for middle-aged men, poisoning and guns were the most popular among middle-aged women.

The study also found an unusually high increase of the suicide rate among Native Americans, increasing by 65 percent overall. Rates also rose 40 percent for non-Hispanic whites.

"Suicide is a tragedy that is far too common,” CDC Director Dr. Tom Frieden said in a statement. “The stories we hear of those who are impacted by suicide are very difficult. This report highlights the need to expand our knowledge of risk factors so we can build on prevention programs that prevent suicide."

"People at risk are help-able, but we have to get them into help," Berman noted. "Most suicides are preventable."