Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Maybe It Was all that Sex, Drugs and Rock 'n' Roll

Suicide rates in the United States have crept higher in recent years, rising from 10.5 suicides per 100,000 population in 1999 to 11.0 2005. But there are cross-cutting currents within those broad averages. Suicide rates increased among middle-aged white women more than any other demographic group, and secondarily among middle-aged white men.

That analysis comes from the Bloomberg School of Public Health at the Johns Hopkin University, in a report published by The American Journal of Preventive Medicine. Suicide rates rose 3.9 percent over the six-year period for white women and 2.6 percent for white men. Suicide rates for African-Americans, less prone to the affliction to begin with, actually went down. Rates were stable for other groups.

“The results underscore a change in the epidemiology of suicide, with middle-aged whites emerging as a new high-risk group,” said study co-author Susan P. Baker, a professor with Bloomberg's Center for Injury Research and Policy. “Historically, suicide prevention programs have focused on groups considered to be at highest risk—teens and young adults of both genders as well as elderly white men. This research tells us we need to refocus our resources to develop prevention programs for men and women in their middle years.”

Even as suicide rates increased marginally more for white Boomer women than for white Boomer men, men are still four times more likely than women to do themselves in.

The reasons for the increase are not fully understood. “While it would be straightforward to attribute the results to a rise in so-called mid-life crises, recent studies find that middle age is mostly a time of relative security and emotional well being,” said Baker. “Further research is warranted to explore societal changes that may be disproportionably affecting the middle-aged in this country.”

What societal changes might be responsible? Here's one theory: white Boomer over-medication. Notes Jane Akre with the web site, "Researchers believe that the increase among white middle-aged people may be due to prescription pain medication such as OxyContin. Prescription pills often have suicide as a side effect. The smoking cessation drug, Chantix, is the latest to be associated with suicides, as is Paxil, and the allergy medication, Singulair."

Whatever the reason, climbing suicide rates suggest that there's a dark side to the white Boomer sub-culture that may warrant further investigation.

(Image credit: Neurological Correlates.)

1 comment:

Groveton said...

It's the drugs. People take more stuff than anyone should. Feeling blue - call your doctor. Headache - call the doc. Run down - call Makeus Sickbe.

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