A recent study by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) showed "more than 8.3 million adults in the U.S. had serious thoughts of committing suicide in the last year." Also, the SAMHSA study revealed more than "2.3 million American adults made a suicide plan and more than 1.1 million adults attempted suicide in the past year."
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), suicide is the 11th leading cause of death in the U.S.
In a separate SAMSHA study, suicide among middle-aged women increased by more than 49 percent.
Medical experts believe stress, depression, substance abuse and sleep issues may all play a role in the increased rate of suicide among middle-aged women.
In an interview with MSNBC, Albert Woodward, Ph.D., the project director of SAMHSA’s Drug Abuse Warning Network, said, ʺWomen over 50 may also be in crisis because of pain and sleep disorders.ʺ These two health issues are common among middle-aged women.
Also, findings from the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index, which were released during an ABC News interview "revealed women ages 45 to 64 have the lowest well-being of any age group or gender."
Today’s middle-aged women are juggling their kids, their parent’s aging issues, marriages and careers. Also, the economy may have many facing serious money pressures. Middle-aged women have little or zero time for themselves.
As these women try to manage their lives, they may also be having health issues like long-term illnesses and pre-menopausal hormone fluctuations. These fluctuations may affect their mood changes.
All of these factors can be overwhelming.
According to SAMHSA Administrator Pamela S. Hyde, J.D., “Friends, family and all members of the community must do everything possible to help identify women who may be in crisis and do everything possible to reach out and get them needed help.”
Here are some common warning signs of someone who may be at increased risk for suicide:
• Have feelings of isolation or loneliness
• Reckless behavior
• Act anxious or agitated
• Increased drinking or the use of drugs
• Mood swings
• Talks about wanting to die
• Talks about feeling hopeless
• Talks about having no purpose in life
Ellyn Kaschak, Ph.D., emeritus professor of psychology at San Jose State University, said, "Older women especially in the U.S. are more isolated and separated from daily human contact outside of work and the Internet."
If someone you know is suicidal, here are some recommendations from the National Institute of Health:
• Do not leave them alone
• Try to get the person to seek immediate help from his or her doctor
• Take them to the nearest hospital emergency room
• Call 911
• Eliminate access to firearms or other potential tools for suicide
• Remove medications
Dr. LeslieBeth Wish, a psychologist and licensed clinical social worker in Sarasota, Fla., said, ʺMiddle-aged women are more aware of their mortality and may be disappointed and disillusioned that it’s too late for happiness.ʺ
Finally, here are some additional sources to contact regarding suicide:
• Anxiety Disorder Association of America, 301.231.9350
• American Psychology Association, 202.336.5500
• American Psychiatric Association, 202.682.6000
• National Alliance for the Mentally Ill, 703.524.7600
• National Mental Health Association, 703.684.7722
• National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, 800.272.8255
Reviewed July 28, 2011
by Michele Blacksberg R.N.
Edited by Shannon Koehle