Suicide rates among middle-age U.S. adults are on the rise, according to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Over the last decade, the rate of suicide among adults ages 35 to 64 increased 28 percent, from 13.7 suicides per 100,000 people in 1999, to 17.6 suicides per 100,000 people in 2010.
The greatest increases in suicide rates were among people ages 55 to 59 (a 49 percent increase) and ages 50 to 54 (a 48 percent increase).
While suicide prevention efforts have traditionally targeted the young and the old, the new findings suggest that it's important for prevention strategies "to address the types of stressors that middle-aged Americans might be facing," Linda Degutis, director of CDC’s National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, said in a statement.
Overall, firearms were the most common way people committed suicide (8.3 suicides per 100,000 people), followed by hanging/suffocation (4.1 suicides per 100,000 people), and poisoning (3.8 suicides per 100,000 people). During the study period, the rate of suicide from hanging/ suffocation increased 81 percent.
The reason for the rise in suicide rates is not known. Previous research has suggested that the recent economic downturn, as well as a rise in access to prescription painkillers may be contributing factors, the report said.
"Suicide is a tragedy that is far too common," CDC Director Dr. Tom Frieden said in a statement. "This report highlights the need to expand our knowledge of risk factors so we can build on prevention programs that prevent suicide."
Suicide prevention strategies include enhancing social support and access to mental health services, and reducing the stigma associated with seeking such care, the report said. Strategies that help people overcome job loss, partner violence and the stress of caring for loved ones are also critical, the report said.
Since 2009, suicide deaths have been more common than deaths from car accidents. In 2010, there were 33,687 deaths from motor vehicle crashes and 38,364 suicides, the CDC said.
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