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Nancy Schimelpfening

Suicide Rates on the Rise Among Middle-Aged Whites

By October 21, 2008

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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.

October 22, 2008 at 12:50 pm
(1) Wendy Aron says:

I think the rise in suicide rates has to do with the fact that people feel more and more isolated from each other in the Internet age. Most communication now takes place via the computer instead of in person. It takes all the warmth and feeling out of human interaction, leaving us to feel more lonely than ever before.

Wendy Aron, author of Hide & Seek: How I Laughed at Depression, Conquered My Fears and Found Happiness


October 22, 2008 at 12:53 pm
(2) darlene says:

I can understand the trend being a middle age white female with clinical depression. You are most likely divorced and alone, with no prospects of marriage or long term relationship. Children are grown and have their own lives.
The idea of growing old with depression is just not worth it, who wants to face that?

October 22, 2008 at 1:28 pm
(3) Sandy says:

For me, it is my parents and siblings and so
called friends that are the causes of my depression.

October 22, 2008 at 1:36 pm
(4) TNT says:

From personal experience……. Divorced, Disabled, Depressed equals Suicidal. I felt like my life was over when the bipolar caused me to lose my husband, kids, job, home, car and any hope for a normal future. I hate that I have a college education and I cant work anymore. I am getting better since I have finally started climbing out of this dark hole and found a few things that I enjoy doing. But living on disability, I just cant afford any extras at all. I did attempt suicide several years ago and I still have a plan for when I just cant take it anymore. My mind still goes there sometimes but Im not putting the plan into action today…..

October 22, 2008 at 1:48 pm
(5) Nancy says:

I agree the prospects for the middle age are often bleak. Kids are grown. Career has peaked. There are often health issues to overcome and it is hard to find support if it was not already in place. Families can be far away, diappointments many and rewards few. So why not?

October 22, 2008 at 4:28 pm
(6) Dee says:

Hell, yes, I agree with all of you. What’s wrong with our society? Why are there so many of us? I tried to join a single women travel club but no one is in my area and they all have more money than I do. I’m alone in a city of almost 10 million people. I have friends but they all have their families and partners to deal with. If I spent all my disposable income on plastic surgery I could maybe get a man, but that’s not who I am. Somewhere our society went very, very wrong.

October 22, 2008 at 6:08 pm
(7) Lauren says:

About a year and a half ago I had 3 strokes, but was already suffering depression. My family left me in the hospital after the strokes and I was released to a homeless shelter (pretty gross one too). My boyfriend was killed in an accident after a few months, so I was really and truly alone then, and still am. I tried to kill myself quite a few times this past year and was supposedly “saved” by people. I’m praying for the day that I can afford to get back on my meds. Or at least no one tries to “save” me again.

October 22, 2008 at 6:13 pm
(8) peggy says:

Some of the comments have really hit home. I am divorced, retired and extremely lonely. My grown children have their own lives and I don’t want to depend upon them for my social life (although to their credit, they frequently invite me to their parties). I don’t know why it is so difficult to connect with other women. Sometimes I want to stop someone on the street or in a store and say, “will you be my friend?” Pathetic, huh?

October 20, 2011 at 12:13 pm
(9) peggy 2 says:

Not Pathetic at all. I’ve felt the same way and I think there are a lot of us lonely people out there. Some ways to meet people –
1. Get a dog and go to the dog park -only if you really want one though as they take about a 15 yr commitment.
2. Join a club that interests you like a garden club, hiking or walking group, quilting group, dance lessons, etc.
3. A church is a good way to meet people who believe the same things you do. Or a Bible study group, etc.
Also search online for other tips from lonely people.

October 23, 2008 at 12:30 am
(10) Marie says:

I am not middle aged but wanted you folks to know I have struggled with depression on and off for years. I am now in my late 30s. I am married and have two children, one with autism. I can have people around me and I still feel lonely. Life is stressful with a child who has autism. My husband works long hours, including Saturdays and goes hunting a lot leaving me to be the sole caregiver. I feel like a prisoner in my own house as it is hard to take my child with autism places. My husband and I argue; he is devastated about the diagnosis of autism. He is also depressed but hides it from people. I think there are a lot of people who are depressed but they hide it because it is looked down on. There are days when I think about suicide but I know that would make things worse for the people left behind. Just wanted you to know married people in their 30s struggle too. Exercise does seem to help some.

October 23, 2008 at 12:53 am
(11) Terri says:

I agree with the responses. I am 45 years old and have no future. I am on disability – so I can’t afford much. No family support. Society/People are afraid of those of us with a “mental illness”. Severe Major Depression is not contagious and we are not “crazy”. I was even asked to leave a “Christian” church because I was “sick”. My therapist suggested that I get a dog. He is now my “service dog”. And, he is the only reason that I am still alive. I don’t want to endure another 30 years in my current situation. I quit trying to find help. When I did ask for help because I was feeling suicidal, people freaked and distanced themselves from me. My psychiatrist and therapist both told me that psych hospitals are awful. So, I wouldn’t consider trying one. Here is what I have figured out: If you want to kill yourself, you can. Even though I am afraid that I can’t stop myself from doing it next time I feel suicidal, no one can really help me.

October 26, 2008 at 7:46 pm
(12) Sam says:

I’m a middle aged (47) single woman has been suicidal, and fighting my way out of the despair every day. I am not mentally or physically disabled. A few years ago I was working, and supporting myself and making the best of my life. I then lost my job in the corporate world and have not been able to find comparable employment to support myself since. I’ve applied for minimum wage jobs, only to be told “I’m overqualified” or the jobs go to younger applicants. I’ve lost my home, my independence, everything and have been reduced to living with a relative. Crawling out of this hole is incredibly difficult. I don’t date or socialize because I’m not in my prime and have severe financial adversity, which most men don’t want to deal with. I do not have children and most of my friends have families and/or spouses, which means I may be invited over for the holidays, but thats the extent of it. The thought of living another 25/30 years like this is unbearable. Our society do not appreciate or honor age. Its become an increasingly shallow and self-serving society, therefore I’m not surprised to read that suicide in increasing, unfortunately. When you run out of options or prospects, the world seems bleak and difficult.1

October 27, 2008 at 5:02 pm
(13) Shaun says:

Suicide is a permanent soloution to a temporary problem, Take time out to think about just what you are leaving in your wake. Tell the voice in your head to shut up, yes that voice, the one that always slates you, in fact edit it, and put donald ducks voice over it, se if you can still take it serious.
live love have fun, when your time really is up, accept it, but do not give it away eh.

November 17, 2008 at 10:21 pm
(14) Jean says:

Child support. The suicide rate of fathers unable to pay support is at it’s highest ever. Nearly 30,000 men a year commit suicide because they are unable to pay the amount the system wants them too.

January 5, 2009 at 6:40 pm
(15) Sam says:

At times I think the only thing keeping me from committing suicide is the curiosity about what might happen next, just in case that it’s worth the experience.

April 10, 2009 at 1:47 am
(16) Sad says:

I’m middle Asian Woman.I had missed a good guy and now I’m single and alone without family. As years go by, I feel very down and always think of ending my life. I feel lost although I’m not mentally nor physically disabled. I just feel very lonely and admired those people who have a happy family. My sister who had suffered from depression had ended up her own life since 1998. I just feel like wanting to follow her step.

April 20, 2009 at 10:26 am
(17) M says:

I COMPLETELY UNDERSTAND everybody’s comments here (except the guy who said to just ‘change’ our thoughts…how about our LIFE changing, get real Shaun. Try LIVING this HELL and TRUTH that if you make 1,000 efforts and see in REALITY that either the system or the way OTHERS think continues to put all efforts into a black hole, you’d feel suicidal too. I am almost 37 and only find men that want to have sex and ‘fun’ with no marriage, a relationship with no intention of marriage, or just plain sex. Am I so worthless of a human being? I am a body to use? What ever happened to love? Not the cheesy kind, but just sweetness or caring? I NOW HATE THE MEN I HAVE DATED WHO USED ME. The only other thing I can think of is to help orphans in Afghanistan or some huge project like that to help others, but even when I do, it’s not enough, I still go up the wall every day SHOCKED that this is actually my life. ZERO HOPE. EVERY TIME I TRY YET ANOTHER MAN, HE TURNS OUT PHYSICALLY ABUSIVE, PERVERT, SELFISH ONE SIDED, OR MARRIED CHEATING ON HIS POOR WIFE. WHO THE HELL WOULDN’T WANT TO LEAVE THIS SHITTY WORLD/SOCIETY WE LIVE IN. AMERICA SUCKS. PEOPLE ONLY CARE ABOUT THEMSELVES HERE, FOR THE MOST PART.

June 24, 2009 at 9:57 am
(18) iSpec says:

I’m white, 43 and contemplating ending my life on earth.

Last April, my wife died after a 8 year terminal illness, my business collapsed, my home was foreclosed and I had to leave my home and move to friends house in Canada. Too much change, so little support and understanding and no vision for a future.

Today, I sit here, at a friends house, and probably few people really know or care that there is nothing left inside me to keep going. People here think I need to ‘move forward’, ‘get to work’ and ‘stop being lazy’. It’s pointless anymore to even try to explain my feelings or what’s going on inside me. I recently went to a counselor who told me he’d call me back after the first session, but instead he just never called. I guess my situation was too hard and his caseload too heavy.

Life for me has become an impoverished dependence and humiliating existence.

I’d rather not be here.

God forgive me through Jesus for ending this.

June 24, 2009 at 11:06 am
(19) A. Friend says:

Hi ispec,

I think it is so important for you to seek out support and understanding right now, not just from the pros, but from people who have been through what you have. I know of a good chat room if you are interested? It’s run by people who also have depression and who have experienced what you are going through right now. It’s located at http://www.depressionhaven.org/. I’m not sure about what crisis lines you have in Canada, but that would be a good resource for you too. Maybe try http://www.befrienders.org/? They provide crisis support worldwide.

July 27, 2009 at 11:33 pm
(20) SusieQ says:

I’m 46, light skinned native american woman who always thinks constantly sbout suicide fixed ideas. Never had the courage to go thru with actions behind the thoughts. My mind races, thoughts are crazy, sometimes actions are careless and reckless. Addiction but;3 clean yrs. coming up Oct.7th. Clinically I have been diagnosed with bi-polar and am treated , now have few depressions and mania for the most part is few. I do have relapses with depression and I no longer use drups to cover all the pain and the LONELINESS in my life. Instead, I face everything head on no matter what. I call people and ASK FOR HELP. I found I am not alone nor do I have to be alone. (Shared pain is lessened pain) It’s not always about me! To get out of “myself”, I help someone else.

April 30, 2010 at 9:47 am
(21) Soose says:

We really need to get together and help each other! People must not be isolated!!! How do we reach out? I suppose you used to be able to go the pub. In schools they have “buddy stops” so you can pick up a new friend – maybe we need the same.

December 29, 2010 at 6:46 am
(22) Mike says:

I would find this site more useful if it were full of garbage comments from people like Wendy Aron in comment number one. I also find it funny that her comment is so critical of the internet, when 1) research shows that the internet actually reduces lonliness, and 2) she is herself an SEO consultant.

April 3, 2012 at 10:00 pm
(23) Sam says:

I read these posts with such sadness because I feel exactly the same way as many posters. Life is INCREDIBLY difficult to get through as it is, but add on loneliness, isolation, no mate/family, economic adversity, unemployment … and it is just simply unbearable. I obviously do not have the answer, and I’m still here.

Why don’t people connect any longer? Well, as a 50 yrs old, single woman (no children/family) I can say that most people with family/children around my age are polite to me, but really don’t want me breaking into their inner circle. As far as making friends, it’s just hard. I don’t know why. I think when you’re alone, there’s some depression involved and connecting to people takes a lot of energy. Like a Catch-22, I guess.

I pray that this self-centered society that we live in, the economic collapse we are experiencing will have at least one silver lining — that people will realize we need each other. We need to connect, in one way or another. For example, when my lease expires this year, I’m seriously thinking about trying to look for a “Golden Girls” type living situation with other single women around my age. It can be tricky to find the right balance of personalities, and of course, financial responsibility, but it’s worth a shot. This way we can not only help alleviate the monthly financial strain by sharing, but hopefully, created a support system and friendship.

It’s hard people. My heart goes out to each and every poster that feels suicidal because of despair and loneliness. Honestly, I know. I’ve been there and I’m still here, but things are slightly better.

May 1, 2012 at 8:15 am
(24) ray says:

I am 46. I lost my wife and child in divorce. Then I lost my job. My child support payments continued and have built up a huge debt that I can never repay. My career is destroyed. I am alone. I miss my boy. I have nothing to live for. It would be so much better to be in heaven; that is, if suicide does not sent you automatically too hell.

Waking up every day for me is a huge disappointment that I am still in this miserable and lonely world. People tell me to “get over it.” I can’t. I tried and I can’t.

August 8, 2012 at 2:13 pm
(25) Brian says:

i think that there is one thing that people are not seeing and refuse to see as one of the main causes. its disrcimination and racism directd towards the White male. All we are being taught these days is how much of a problem we are to the world, and that everything we achieve causes someone else to suffer. Whether it affects us consciously or sub consciously, it lowers self esteem. Not only that, but with such programs as affirmative action, which, while having some positive aspects, often result in discrimination being directed towards Whites in the work force. Often times minorities, because of what was taught to them in school, feel justified in discriminating against Whites. So once they become managers at a certain job, they often times will discrimninate against Whites and only hire their own race. It is also socially exceptable to ridicule Whites with racist jokes, even on television. It makes Whites, the White male, feel like he is a punching bag for minorities to take out their frustration. Its stressful, especially in a place like California. I think about suicide myself sometimes.

September 1, 2012 at 9:06 am
(26) Chris says:

I am in my mid fifties and have no family at all. I have a history of anxiety, depression and cancer and am high risk of glaucoma. To be honest, I pray for death every day. I do try to keep busy by going to various reading groups etc but am very afriad inside of getting old alone. I was recently diagnosed with Aspergers but don’t think I have it. I went for the diagnosis as I am so scared of being forced to carry on being independent when I am old and maybe blind that I thought that with Aspergers I would be allowed into a care home once I get old. So I lied on some of the questions to get a diagnosis. I admitted to the nurse that I had tried to come over as worse than I am and she said I had it anyway. But I still feel gulity and am unsure if I have it or not. It is awful to have to do things I hate doing because I am so lonely and scared all the time.

November 28, 2012 at 6:02 am
(27) steven says:

I’m a 55 yr old guy paying 22% of my gross income for a child i have not seen since his birth. Soon he will turn 13 and i have been told i will pay 26.6% of my gross income for a child i haven’t seen since his birth and i was i was tricked by the mother into believing she was on contraception. I won’t forget her words…..”Now i have got you”
The worst case for me is i will pay this 26.6% of my gross salary till i am 67 yrs old. If i have to pay for his education as well. My son lives OS as well…
I can see everything i have worked so hard for all my life go. In the last 12yrs since i met this women slowly but surely go its gone…I can’t see i will be able to keep my house for much longer and my car need repairs to the point it won’t ever be going again. So i bus it to work. I pretty much at my age have no friends as you need money to go out. This story is no different to many many others…I ask the Child support agency why beat those paying child support into the ground..let me work weekends or whatever to get some pride back…..They do not care at all about your situation. Work a w/end pay tax then Child support and the pay
62% of yr pay is gone.
There really isn’t much point at all telling people about what its like living from pay to pay and thinking i will be 67 when it ends…
For me its very clear…no fuss just go for a long walk off a short pier.
But if your smart you make it appear as if it is an accident..that way at least your child will end up with whatever you own plus your insurance from an accidental death..

March 21, 2013 at 5:50 pm
(28) Dearie says:

Well, perhaps this author is reading these comments and now understands the reasons behind the increase in suicide rates for middle aged whites? She should look even more at gender and marital status. I’m 47 and was only briefly married, I had no kids. The older I got the harder it was to date. The “pool” dried up. Men that were my age either wanted younger women, or “friends with perks.” But, no commitments. Then came the 20 something’s that wanted 1 night stands, which I refused.
I eventually had to give up on the dream of marriage and kids. My first breakdown came when I had to attend my nieces wedding without a date. The second came when my nephew and his girlfriend announced they were expecting. It felt like God was mocking me. I can’t go to family functions anymore. It breaks my heart to attend as the “spinster aunt,”. The only one other than the great nieces without a partner. I feel like a failure.
I have given up. I work from home at a job I hate. I go to bed right after work and pray that I don’t wake up in the morning. All of my old hobbies don’t interest me anymore.
I have cats, and I love them. But single middle aged women with cats are joked about as “crazy cat ladies.” We are jokes to society – we are known as “desperate” “cougars”…you name it.
Who wouldn’t want to fall asleep and not wake up?

November 4, 2013 at 2:02 am
(29) michele says:

I am almost 51. Widowed almost 2 years ago when my fiancé died suddenly. I have a severe spinal condition that has left me practically bed ridden. Rent is going up so I am going to have to live in the back of my broken down truck with an air mattress. I am on a housing list with a 5-10 year waiting list. I just had my 13 year olds food stamps cut almost in half. I already go to food bank, even though I am not supposed to carry anything, and carry my food and it really hurts me. I am killing myself beaxause I am not living like like this anymore. I can’t sit or stand long so begging on a corner is physically impossible. Its very difficult to drive. Every social service program for disabled denied me. I am tired of living without my sweet heart in absolute poverty.

February 4, 2014 at 9:08 pm
(30) Eddie says:

Don’t worry about who loves you , partners , kids . Etc. God loves you! HeThinks about you every second too. Lean on him , put your burdens on him. I am a white, unemployed , childless man. Sure I know some spoils of life weren’t meant for me and I know society looks down on me and my social isolation is bad but prayer and his grace keep me alive ! Know that you are still here for a reason and when fear and doubt fill your mind and it gets real bad all you have to do is just say his name and be healed,Jesus! He is love and he only can see you as a perfect child of God.

February 5, 2014 at 3:12 am
(31) Claudia says:

I’m in my 50′s and I never been with anyone (mostly because no one ever wanted me). I have both medical heath problems (like diabetes etc..) and emotional problems since I was little.There is only my mom who is pushing 80 and not in the very best health either. Seriously if I didn’t have her, I would be living on the street eating out of garbage cans or I would be dead. So pretty much I will say, I should have died a long time ago when certain people tried to kill me. Why should someone so ugly and and useless as me with so many health problems continue to live? Even my doctors show unfeeling consideration when I have been in life and death situation. I’m getting angrier and bitter as I get older. Yeah only my mom cares, no one else but she is 79. Like I said, I am only alive today because of her. If my dad was alive, I would be ok too but he died when I was 40.

February 21, 2014 at 11:59 am
(32) tom says:

Just recently I had been diagnosed with an illness. I’m deciding on treatment options. I have not done anything yet. With the way things are going in my world (and in the world in general), I feel like I want to let it go. I don’t want to die, I just want the BS in life to go away. I am 57, never married, and no kids.

I’m thankful that I have a job, but it can go at anytime. Also there was a time when that I was able to put money away, but now I can’t because I’m taking home less – due to the act of Congress to pay off the decifit. I live in a condo complex and I own a unit there. The people at my complex are not friendly. I feel very stuck there because of financial reasons. Making friends and finding that special someone is hard. And all of a sudden, it seems like I can’t do anything right with anyone. My family is split up. So I feel that there’s nothing to look forward to.

March 14, 2014 at 1:39 am
(33) Jerry says:

Well I read the comments… and all of them hit home, to me…
I am older than most of you…. and my life was hell for a long time…I think that its difficult when you play by the rules, and do the right thing, then suddenly the rules change…. and your screwed…

One thing that i have come away with is that I am not alone, that many people feel what I am feeling, and I realized how much I needed you all to say what you did….

Were all of about the same generation, and have the same views about things probably… and we all need each other, we need each other, and thats why we will get better, not because of some crazy slogan, but because thats all thats left, that we have, that’s real…. We need each other…

To form friendships, and alliances, and ever growing groups of people, who feel the same way as us…. we are not to blame, nor are we responsible for our situation, but we can make things better for each other, by realizing were in it together…

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