There's no question about it--American baby boomers are taking their own lives like never before. Suicide rates in the United States jumped dramatically for 35- to 64-year-olds between 1999 and 2010, according to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). These self-inflicted deaths increased from 13.7 per 100,000 to 17.6. As a result, in 2010 more people died from suicide (38,364) than from car accidents (33,687).
Is the economy to blame primarily for these new statistics? It seems to me it has to be a main factor at least. In the past Americans by culture have been generally optimistic---to not be so (unless you are talking about government, taxes or the Chicago Cubs reaching the World Series) was to be a "gloomy gus" in your respective "pack". Drawing from anecdotes, something of that optimism has gone out of the psyches of many friends and acquaintances. It is not that people I know are depressed; it is more a case of desperation over jobs and the harder task of preserving that lifeline of savings and pensions, 401ks, Social Security, family educational expenses, medical costs , et al.
I wonder if people need to get out more into their own communities more and away from the dreary rounds of our Great Political Gridlock. The name-calling and the finger pointing are not adding up to much---regions and party affiliation seem more important today than what we all have in common as Americans. Maybe the best hope to counteract some of these tragedies is for more of us to try to listen to others a little harder and remember we all have more in common than we might think.