Thursday, June 10, 2010

The Invisible Boomers

People aged 80 and older have statistically had the highest suicide rate in the US. Since 2006, according to the Centers for Disease Control, those statistics are changing:

The most recent figures released, from 2007, reveal that the 45-to-54 age group had a suicide rate of 17.6 per every 100,000 people. The second highest was the 75-to-84 age range, with a rate of 16.4, followed by those between 35 and 44, with a 16.3.

The rate for 45- to 54-year-olds in 2006 was 17.2 per 100,000 people, and in 2005 it was 16.3.

“It’s such a startling rise,” said Dr. Paula Clayton, the medical director of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.

Researchers are puzzled by the increase, but Dr. Clayton said the rise in suicide among Americans born in the 1950s and 1960s was probably a result of a combination of factors, including easier access to guns and prescription drugs and what may be a higher incidence of depression among baby boomers.

Dr. Clayton seems to be skirting what may well be the real cause of this increase in boomer suicides:

In hindsight, the suicide numbers look like a warning sign about the coming collapse of the economy, suggesting that many people in their prime working years were already feeling the economic stress of what would become an epidemic of foreclosures and job losses before those losses actually started showing up on anyone's radar screen. The middle-age suicide rate jumped first in 2006, at the peak of the housing bubble...

There are safety nets for the young and the elderly. There are none for the middle aged. A middle aged person who loses their job and becomes one of the long term unemployed will also be likely to lose their home, their savings, and their credit. Marriages falter in these situations.

Sadly, this is not new information. The folks in this age group may as well be invisible, for all the interest there is in doing anything to help them.

cross posted at Main St/

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