White, Middle-Aged Driving Up US Suicide Rates

Trend represents a recently emerged high-risk group

THURSDAY, Oct. 23 (HealthDay News) -- The suicide rate in the United States is on the rise for the first time in 10 years, driven primarily by an increase in suicides among white, middle-aged men and women, according to a report released online Oct. 21 in advance of publication in the December issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

Guoqing Hu, Ph.D., of Central South University in Changsha, China, and colleagues analyzed data from the Web-based Injury Statistics Query and Reporting System on suicide trends from 1981 through 2005. The data was analyzed by age, race, gender and method.

After 1999, there as an increase in the suicide rate, largely due to a greater number of white men and women aged 40 to 64 years committing suicide, the data revealed. From 1999 to 2005, the suicide rate rose 2.7 percent a year for men and 3.9 percent for women, the investigators found. Notable increases by specific method included a 6.3 percent increase in hanging/suffocation by men versus 2.3 percent for women, and a 19.3 percent increase in poisoning among women versus 2.8 percent for men, the researchers report.

"The epidemiology of suicide has changed," the authors write. "Although firearms remain the dominant method of committing suicide, the rate of suicide by firearm has decreased, and suicide by hanging/suffocation has increased markedly. The increases in suicide by hanging/suffocation and in suicide among the middle-aged merit the further attention of researchers and policymakers. Recognition of these new patterns may help to guide prevention strategies."

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