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Friday, August 15, 2014

Increased Suicide Rates Amongst Middle Aged

Many Americans and people around the world are at a loss concerning the recent death of famed comedian/actor Robin Williams. The apparent suicide of Williams has prompted a number of people to look at what could cause someone who appears to have the world in their hands, take their own life. Robin Williams’ death highlights the increasing rate of suicide among American adults ages 45 to 64 according to U.S. health officials, The Wall Street Journal reports.

Williams struggled with drug addiction, alcoholism, and depression for years, according to The New York Times. Williams cleaned up from drugs in the mid-80s, but then sought treatment for alcohol abuse in 2006. Williams had been treated for severe depression recently. However, the risk of suicide increases in people who are struggling with drug and alcohol use and depression. And just yesterday his wife indicated that Williams was also in the early stages of Parkinson's disease.

Suicide rates for adults ages 45 to 64 increased 40 percent from 1999 to 2011, reports the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The suicide rate for people in middle age to late middle age is higher than any other group, according to Jill Harkavy-Friedman, Vice President of Research at the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. “We don’t hear about middle-age or older people who kill themselves unless they’re a star like Robin Williams,” she said. “Because it’s so shocking when a younger person dies, there’s a tendency of re-reporting and romanticizing.”

According to Julie Phillips, Associate Professor of Sociology at Rutgers University, the increased suicide rate in this age group could be caused by:
  • Economic Pressures
  • Health Problems
  • Abuse of Prescription Drugs
  • Social Isolation
Most suicide prevention efforts have been mostly geared towards young and elderly people, according to Alex Crosby of the CDC. “Middle-aged adults got kind of left out in the thinking of where to focus to resources for suicide prevention,” he said. “It’s important for us to examine more closely and put more resources into that population.”

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