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Posts tagged: suicides

Suicides on the rise for aging boomers

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a sad and troubling report today.

Suicide deaths rose fairly dramatically, across the entire country, for all age groups, but especially for aging boomers.

The report does not analayze why. But now that this sobering report is out, I expect the theories will begin.

Some of the findings:

  • From 1999 to 2010, the age-adjusted suicide rate for adults aged 35–64 years in the United States increased significantly by 28.4 percent — from 13.7 per 100,000 population to 17.6.
  • The suicide rate for men aged 35–64 years increased 27.3 percent — from 21.5 to 27.3, and the rate for women increased 31.5 percent from 6.2 to 8.1
  •  Among men, the greatest increases were among those aged 50–54 years and 55–59 years, (49.4 percent — from 20.6 to 30.7, and 47.8 percent — from 20.3 to 30.0, respectively).
  • Among women, suicide rates increased with age, and the largest percentage increase in suicide rate was observed among women aged 60–64 years (59.7 percent from 4.4 to 7.0).
  • Firearms and suffocation were the most common mechanisms for men; poisoning and firearms were the most common mechanisms for women
  • From 1999 to 2010, suicides by suffocation increased from 18 percent to 24 percent of all suicides for men and from 12 percent to 18 percent of all suicides for women.

The sadness of suicides

Was just reading Cathy's post below when the police scanners in the newsroom started screaming with activity, sirens and lots of voices. A woman just jumped from the Monroe Street Bridge, a block or two away from The Spokesman-Review building.

We only report suicides when it is done in a public manner, such as a bridge jump. But our scanners tell a bigger story. We often hear of police being called to a home where a person has killed himself or herself — and many, many calls of people attempting suicide.

As the CDC recently reported:

Suicidal thoughts and behaviors are important public health concerns in the United States. In 2008, a total of 36,035 persons died as a result of suicide, and approximately 666,000 persons visited hospital emergency departments for nonfatal, self-inflicted injuries.

As children in Catholic school, we were taught to say the “Hail Mary” when we heard fire and ambulance sirens. I wonder, what is an appropriate response when you hear suicide attempts over the police scanner at work?

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About this blog

Writer Catherine Johnston of Olympia, Wash., addresses issues facing aging baby boomers and seniors as well as issues of serious illness, death and dying, grief and loss.

Ask a question: Catherine welcomes questions about aging issues and grief. Email her at

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