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Suicide rate climbing among middle-age Americans

NEWS IN BRIEF — Posted May 13, 2013

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Suicides for U.S. adults age 35 to 64 rose 28.4% from 13.7 suicides per 100,000 people in 1999 to 17.6 suicides per 100,000 in 2010, said a report in the May 3 issue of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

The largest increases occurred in American Indian/Alaska Natives (65.2%) and whites (40.4%). The three most common suicide mechanisms were firearms, poisoning and suffocation, said the report (link).

It’s not clear why the suicide rate is rising, but the findings underscore the need for suicide prevention measures directed toward middle-age populations, the CDC authors said. Suicide rates for people 10 to 34 years old and those 65 and older did not change significantly during the study period.

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force issued a draft statement April 23 that said there is insufficient evidence to recommend for or against suicide screening among patients of any age in primary care. But the National Strategy for Suicide Prevention urges physicians to screen patients at increased risk of taking their lives and to educate family members about ways to support such individuals. The strategy was issued by the Dept. of Health and Human Services Office of the Surgeon General and the National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention.

For the MMWR study, researchers examined National Vital Statistics System mortality data from 1999-2010 to assess suicide trends among middle-age adults.

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