Remember when we were told "50 Is The New 30?" Yes, turning 50 was your golden ticket to a new era of robust good health, affluence, adventure, romance, and wisdom that would make our middle years the envy of other generations. And it all seemed quite plausible when the economy featured nearly full employment, because everything is possible when anyone that wants a job can get one.
Well 50 isn't the new 30 or even the new 40. Fifty is the new 70. The Baby Boom's expected peak earning years have vanished in a fog of debt, divorce, unemployment, no health insurance, worries about ailing parents, and struggling kids.
And now the CDC has found this:
The suicide rate among Americans aged 35 to 64 rose sharply between 1999 and 2010.....The annual rate of suicide rose 28 percent among Americans aged 35 to 64 during the study period, but changed little for older and younger people... The number of suicides among people in their 50s doubled in that time frame.
The rest of this study seems to indicate that people in the 35-65 age bracket have had the greatest increase in suicide, while the suicide rate for people over 65 and under 34 are little changed. This is a population that has not been served by suicide prevention programs or specific social safety net programs. And that's the age group that has taken on debt and bought into the middle class dream of car payments and a mortgage that depends on the expectation of social stability and a steady job. Instead, this is the age at which people find themselves vulnerable to layoffs and age discrimination. And without health insurance, even minor health problems can snowball into financial ruin.
Americans preferred method of suicide remains firearms, but overdoses from prescription painkillers are gaining ground. Wikipedia provides a handy recap of suicide methods around the world, and it's surprisingly quirky from country to country. Did you know that thousands of people in Japan have committed suicide by jumping into a volcano?