Increased suicide risk for white middle-aged Americans & the pessimism in time of recession

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A research study covering the period of 1999 to 2005, shows a striking change in the demographics of suicide risk. From the records of the National Center for Health Statistics it is revealed that there is a sharp increase in the number of white middle-aged women who commit suicide compared to men.

To appear in the December 2008 issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, the report of Guoing Hu, PhD of Central South University in Changsha, China and Susan Baker, MPH of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health has the following salient findings:

1. The suicide rate for white women 40-64 years old went up 3.9% per year during the study period.
2. The suicide rate among white men in the same age group increased 2.7% per year.
3. Overall suicide rates went up for whites — 1.1% per year. Suicide rates went down significantly for African-Americans — 1.1% per year.
4. Suicide rates remained stable for Asian and Native Americans.” —WebMed Health News (10/21/08, Colihan K, Chang, L. M.D.)

Because the exact reason for the increase in suicide in this period is unclear, Baker urges a review of the social changes that could drive more middle-aged persons to end their life. She says the new findings may help in the reorientation of mental health programs which focus on teenagers, young adult, and white middle-aged men, traditionally thought to belong to the high risk groups.

To guard against suicide, the authors suggest the following: learn new coping or problem-solving skills, adhere to cultural or religious beliefs that discourage suicide; develop strong support from the family and community members, and seek high quality treatment for mental or physical disorders or addictions.

Culled from data before the recent economic downturn, the report comes at a time when negativities and pessimism among Americans are high and on the rise. AFP (10/21/08.) Greater vigilance therefore against depression and suicide must be done as financial problems cause uncertainty, anger, and anxiety. (Photo Credit: by Coolcolonia4711; Laserbread)=0=

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