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SUICIDE RATE AMONG OLDER NATIVE AMERICANS JUMPS DRAMATICALLY

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From Staff Reports

ROSEBUD — Among non-Hispanic whites and Native Americans, annual suicide rates have jumped 40 percent and 65 percent, respectively, according to government reports.

Suicide rates are rising dramatically among middle-aged and older Americans, according to U.S. government statistics, which showed a 28 percent spike from a decade ago.

The CDC said figures show more people are committing suicide than dying in car accidents, and attribute the increase to adults aged 35 to 64.

The number of Americans in that age range who took their own lives grew from 13.7 per 100,000 people in 1999, to 17.6 per 100,000 in 2010—a disturbing 28 percent increase, the agency said.

The rise was most dramatic among those in their 50s—the tail-end of the so-called "Baby Boomer" generation born after World War II—who saw a nearly 50 percent jump in suicides.

"Suicide is a tragedy that is far too common," said CDC Director Tom Frieden. "This report highlights the need to expand our knowledge of risk factors so we can build on prevention programs."

In 2010, motor vehicle accidents killed 33,687 people, while 38,364 died from suicide that year, according to the CDC.

And the CDC found that, while most suicides were committed with guns, the number of people dying from suffocation and hanging rose the fastest—by more than 80 percent—over the last decade.

Previous research and prevention efforts have focused on the young and the elderly, but the CDC said these programs should now be expanded to the middle-aged.

"It is important for suicide prevention strategies to address the types of stressors that middle-aged Americans might be facing and that can contribute to suicide risk," said CDC’s Linda Degutis.

Experts are not certain why suicide rates are increasing so markedly among middle-aged adults, but suggested that causes could include the current economic crisis. Suicides have historically spiked in times of financial hardship.

The authors also noted that the increase in suicides among baby boomers in their 50s may be related to their generation, as they also showed unusually high rates of suicide in their teenage years.

The CDC said efforts could be stepped up to bolster programs for those with financial difficulties, job loss, intimate partner problems, stress of caring for children or aging parents, substance abuse, or who suffer from chronic pain and have been denied pain relief.

In the U.S., people are taught that at any cost they must live as long as possible and to fear or shun suicide, while in some cultures taking one’s life due to chronic pain, disease or loss of honor is tolerated as a natural part of life.

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