U.S. suicide rates are rising, say researchers, and the rise appears to be driven by an increase in suicide rates among middle-aged white men and women.
Between the years 1999 and 2005 the overall suicide rate rose 0.7%. In contrast, however, the rate among middle-aged white men rose 2.7% and the rate among middle-aged white women rose 3.9%.
The biggest increase seen was in the rate of suicides by poisoning among middle-aged white women, which rose by 57%. Other changes seen were a decrease in gun suicides among men and an increase in suicides by hanging or suffocation among both genders.
"These results," said study author Susan Baker, "underscore a change in the epidemiology of suicide, with middle-aged whites emerging as a new high-risk group."
Traditionally, teens and young adults of both genders, as well as elderly white men have been the targets of suicide prevention efforts. These efforts need to be refocused in light on this new research, according to Baker.
The reasons behind the changing suicide rates were unclear, however. Baker said she hopes that future research will be dedicated to discerning the trend's causes.
The article appears in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.