The Coastal Packet: Middle age suicides leap in Maine

Monday, May 2

Middle age suicides leap in Maine

Press Herald - Suicide among middle-aged Mainers has soared since 1999, fueling an overall increase in the suicide rate for people of all ages in Maine and mirroring a national trend. The number of Mainers who killed themselves in the 45-64 age group increased from 47 in 1999 to 102 in 2013 before declining to 86 in 2014, the latest year for which statistics are available, according to the CDC. The trend line was consistently higher in the 2010s when compared with the early to mid-2000s.

The figures translate into a suicide rate for middle-aged Mainers of 21.1 per 100,000 people in 2014. That’s a 37 percent increase from 1999, when the rate per 100,000 was 15.4. Across the United States, the rate for the same age group increased 48 percent, from 13.2 to 19.5, with 16,294 suicides in the 45-64 age group.

It’s not clear what might be driving the trend. Traditional risk factors for suicide include loss of employment, isolation and being a victim of sexual assault. One possible contributing factor is the surge in opioid addiction – including prescription opioids and heroin, experts say.

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