Suicide rates for adults between 40 and 64 years of age in the U.S. have risen about 40% since 1999, with a sharp rise since 2007. One possible explanation could be the detrimental effects of the economic downturn of 2007-2009, leading to disproportionate effects on house values, household finances, and retirement savings for that age group. In a study published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, researchers found that external economic factors were present in 37.5% of all completed suicides in 2010, rising from 32.9% in 2005.
In addition, suffocation, a method more likely to be used in suicides related to job, economic, or legal factors, increased disproportionately among the middle-aged. The number of suicides using suffocation increased 59.5% among those aged 40-64 years between 2005 and 2010, compared with 18.0% for those aged 15-39 years and 27.2% for aged >65 years.
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"The sharpest increase in external circumstances appears to be temporally related to the worst years of the Great Recession, consistent with other work showing a link between deteriorating economic conditions and suicide. External circumstances also have increased in importance among those aged 65 years. Financial difficulties related to the loss of retirement savings in the stock market crash may explain some of this trend."
Using data from the National Violent Death Reporting System (NVDRS), which links information on violent deaths from multiple sources including medical examiner and coroner reports, toxicology reports, law enforcement records, supplemental homicide reports, and death certificates, researchers were able to analyze 17 distinct suicide circumstances and four indicators related to planning and intent.
The suicide circumstances were grouped into three major categories:
- Personal, such as depressed mood, current treatment for a mental health problem, or alcohol dependence.
- Interpersonal include an intimate partner problem, the death of a friend, or being a victim of intimate partner violence.
- External circumstances are a job or financial problem, legal problem, or difficulty in school.
- crisis in the past two weeks,
- leaving a suicide note,
- disclosing an intent to commit suicide, or
- a history of prior attempts.
* * * * *Story Source: Materials provided by Elsevier Health Sciences. Katherine A. Hempstead, Julie A. Phillips. Rising Suicide Among Adults Aged 40–64 Years. American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 2015