For how long will the U.S. suicide rate remain elevated?

In the United States, Julie Phillips, a sociologist at Rutgers University, was among the first researchers to frisk these middle-age suicides for deeper meaning. In 2010 she and a colleague declared the age range a new danger zone for self-harm. Many commentators took this as another fun fact about the boomers, not a cause for general alarm. But earlier this month, Phillips presented the results of a second paper, an attempt to settle the question of whether the boomers were especially suicidal. She sifted through eight decades of U.S. suicide data, wrenching it to separate the influence of absolute age, peer effects, and the events of the moment, and she found something shocking: the boomers have the highest suicide rate right now, but everyone born after 1945 shows a higher suicide risk than expected—and everyone is on pace for a higher rate than the boomers.

Here is more on that topic.  There is also this:

In her next bundle of research, Phillips hopes to pinpoint the massive, steam-rolling social change that matters most for self-harm. She has a good list of suspects: the astounding rise in people living alone, or else feeling alone; the rise in the number of people living in sickness and pain; the fact that church involvement no longer increases with age, while bankruptcy rates, health-care costs, and long-term unemployment certainly do.

I would think also that these days committing suicide involves less shame than it used to.  Here is one of the cited papers.  Here is her home page.


Comments for this post are closed