Earlier this month the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the United States released one of their Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Reports highlighting statistics from the National Vital Statistics System that suggests that the suicide rate among adults age 35-64 years of age in the country have increase significantly from 1999-2010.
During the ten year period from 1999-2010 the age adjusted suicide rate among 35-64 year olds increased 28.4% from 13.7/100,000 in 1999 to 17.6/100,000 in 2010. No statistically significant increase was observed among the younger or older age groups. The report also showed that firearms remain the most prominent mechanism of suicide but that suicides via suffocation had increased 81.3% during the time period. Whites remain the racial group with the highest suicide rate at 22.3/100,000 in 2010 but American Indians/Alaska Natives saw the greatest percentage increase (65.2%) with a rate of 11.2/100,000 in 1999 and 18.5/100,000 in 2010.
Exactly why this age group has experienced such a large increase is a topic that needs additional research but possible factors referenced by the CDC report highlight the economic downturn and possibly a cohort effect associated with the “baby boomer” generation. Historically, suicide prevention activities have focused on youth and older adults. While there is uncertainty regarding why the increase has taken place among this age group, the fact that is has highlights the need to ensure suicide prevention measures address the full life spectrum.