Franklin James Cook

Suicide Up for Baby Boomers, Women

In Research on October 21, 2008 at 3:35 pm

ORIGINAL ARTICLE — The Washington Post reports on a new study that finds “the suicide rate in the United States is increasing for the first time in a decade, particularly among middle-aged white women.”

“This is a group we haven’t had as much focus on in terms of suicide, because the death rates were higher in elderly white males, and there has been a lot of attention to teenagers and young adults,” said lead researcher Susan P. Baker, a professor at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. “This 40-to-64 age group has been neglected.”

A noted suicidologist quoted in the report cautioned about making too sweeping of conclusions from relatively short-term data.

Alan L. Berman, executive director of the American Association of Suicidology, noted that “suicide rates vary, and until you have a clear and dramatic difference, it’s awfully hard to know what’s going on.”

“We are always concerned about understanding these kinds of trends, but they need to go on for many years in order to truly define them as something significant and different.”

He also summarized a fundamental principle about suicide prevention and intervention:

The goal should be to identify and treat people who are suicidal, Berman said. “We need to understand better those who are suicidal, irrespective of age or gender or race. We need to understand and observe warning signs, so that we can find and refer and treat these individuals before they become statistics.”

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