In Middle-Aged Adults, Suicide Prevention Demands Its Own Strategy
Prevention & Treatment Families and friends are losing loved ones to suicide at an increasing rate. If this trend is to change, we must make clear that suicide is preventable—not inevitable.
Suicide is on the rise among middle-aged Americans. According to The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more people in the U.S. die by suicide than car crashes.
Between 1999 and 2013, suicide among 35-64-year-olds rose 30 percent. There were more than 22,300 suicides in 2013, making it the fifth-leading cause of death in this age group.
Another 202,000 adults were treated in U.S. emergency departments for self-harm injuries, though most who attempt suicide do not seek medical treatment.
Inside the numbers
We’ve learned a lot about what contributes to suicide. Multiple factors interact over time, among them child abuse and neglect, lack of social connectedness, untreated mental health problems, substance abuse, impulsive behavior and a family history of suicide.
"Close to 10 percent who attempt suicide and survive die from suicide later on."
A recent study of National Violent Death Reporting System data shows financial concerns such as home foreclosure can contribute to a crisis leading to suicide.
The gravity of this problem cannot be underestimated. Suicide and suicide attempts devastate friends, families, workplaces and communities.
Close to 10 percent who attempt suicide and survive die from suicide later on. Therefore it’s imperative we develop effective prevention strategies tailored for middle-aged adults, to build on the foundation of the National Strategy for Suicide Prevention.
One strategy is creating opportunities for social connectedness. Being involved in others’ lives and the community helps people cope, boosts mental health and decreases isolation. Efforts that improve access to quality mental health care and reduce stigma associated with seeking help are also needed.
We must help communities use what works to prevent and address problems that acutely affect middle-aged adults: economic challenges, intimate partner violence, care-giving stress, legal issues, drug abuse and chronic health issues.
As individuals, we can connect, keep lines of communication open and let those struggling know there is hope.