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Suicide Among White Middle Class Increases

Allan Schwartz, LCSW, Ph.D. was in private practice for more than thirty years. He is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker in the states ...Read More

According to an investigation done by the Johns Hopkins Behavioral Sciences and Psychiatry Department there has been a significant increase in the rates of suicide among while middle class men and women in the United States. This represents a dramatic shift from the years prior to the year 2,000 where the numbers were much lower. Actually, world wide studies show that in most nations around the world the middle aged report feeling the least happy with their lives than any other groups. The rate of increase is especially high for women in this age group. By the way, the middle age group is considered to range from 36 to 65 years of age.

Thus far, researchers have not discovered the reasons for the increase in this suicide rate. However, the speculation goes along these lines:

Possible Reasons for White Middle Class Suicide

1. Menopausal women who started hormone replacement therapy may have stopped the therapy on their own initiative and experienced severe depression as a result.

2. Baby boomers who abused drugs when they were younger and continued to do so into the present may be experiencing a severe increase in depression.

3. There has been a serious increase in prescription drug abuse that may be contributing to the problem.

While there is a lot of information and prevention with regard to teenage and elderly suicide, not such attention has been paid to this middle aged group. Following is a list of symptoms to be aware of if anyone you know may be vulnerable to suicide:

Warning Signs of a Possible Suicide Attempt:

1. Talk of, or preoccupation with, suicide or death.

2. Threatening suicide.

3. Writing about death or suicide.

4. Serious depression including: desperation, feelings of hopelessness, feeling no sense of purpose, loss of interest in things one used to care about.

5. Trouble sleeping.

6. Withdrawal from family and friends. 

7. Reckless behavior: increased risk-taking.

8. Irritability.

9. Making statements about life not being worth living, hating life, that the "world would be better off without me," and similar feelings.

10. Lots of stress: loss of job, divorce, death of spouse, death of child, debt, chronic illness, alcohol and drug abuse, etc.

It is important to be aware that even though you know the warning signs of suicide it is also extremely difficult to stop someone who is intent on making the attempt.

It is also important to understand that depression and suicide affects all age, ethnic, religious, racial, social class and cultural groups. Those with family histories of things such as depression, psychiatric illness, suicides among close relatives, and those who abuse drugs, alcohol and explosive anger, are at increased risk for suicide.

If you are feeling suicidal you can go to the emergency room of the local hospital, call the suicide hot line, or call 911. If you are with someone who is suicidal it is alright to call 911.

Keep Reading By Author Allan Schwartz, LCSW, Ph.D.
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