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U.S. Suicide Rates Rising Sharply

A May 2013 article in The New York Times notes that "suicide rates among middle-aged Americans have risen sharply in the past decade." Here are the stats behind this trend:

  • From 1999 to 2010, the suicide rate among Americans ages 35 to 64 rose by nearly 30 percent.
  • More Americans now die of suicide (38,364) than car accidents (33,687). That's 3,026 more people who die from suicide each year than in car crashes.
  • The most pronounced increases were seen among men in their 50s, a group in which suicides jumped by nearly 50 percent.
  • The suicide rate for middle-aged men was three times higher than for middle-aged women.

Researchers claim that the reasons for suicide are often complex, but this article focused on two factors—the stress of the economic downturn and the widespread availability of prescription painkillers. But it also hinted that deeper issues like failed expectations and a loss of hope might be a root cause for the increase in suicides. Dr. Julie Phillips, a researcher from Rutgers University, says, "The boomers had great expectations for what their life would look like, but … it hasn't turned out that way." Dr. Phillips warns that future generations will be facing the same conditions that lead to this sense of despair.

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