In the last 10 years there has been a dramatic increase in the number of baby boomers committing suicide. The recent suicide of iconic comedian Robin Williams on August 11th cast national attention on the escalating baby boomer suicide rate. Boomer stress, depression and chronic health issues are key factors behind this troubling trend, but there are a host of other reasons too. However, no one really knows for certain why someone takes his or her life.
In the last decade, the suicide rate for baby boomers has risen nearly 30 percent, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). A CDC study found a dramatic spike in suicides among baby boomers. Suicides in men in their 50s rose nearly 50 percent and suicides in women in their early 60s were up almost 60 percent.
The reasons behind suicide are multifaceted. According to experts everything from boomer stress and depression, health problems, the lasting effects of the recession, the economy and family caregiving responsibilities to unemployment and substance abuse may contribute to the spiral in boomer suicides. The reality of getting older and disillusionment may also play a role.
The National Institute of Health has disclosed that baby boomers ‘may be in the suicide danger zone. Dashed expectations, economic woes, depression or chronic medical problems and the financial crisis’ may all be contributing factors to boomer suicides. ‘Surveys of baby boomers have shown a tone of disappointment.’
Health issues may have a direct bearing on the growing boomer suicide rate because many baby boomers are already confronting critical health problems like chronic diseases which can lead to depression and, in some cases, suicide. According to CBSnews.com baby boomers in this country have a higher rate of chronic diseases, obesity-related diseases, diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, heart disease and more disabilities than their parents at the same age.
The economy is also linked to the jump in boomer suicides. For many boomers, the recession and economic downturn resulted in a financial crisis, disppointment and failed expectations. Coupled with this is the high rate of unemployment and loss of health insurance for many boomers. CDC reports that ‘historically, suicide rates rise during periods of severe financial hardship and setbacks.’
Family issues come into play as well. A large number of baby boomers are caregivers to their aging parents and are supporting adult children who still depend on them financially. This causes stress and financial woes as boomers support multigenerational households, forcing many to postpone retirement indefinitely. The boomer generation also has a high divorce rate which causes stress and results in loneliness and financial struggles.
While all of these issues influence baby boomer suicide, no one knows for certain why anyone commits suicide. Baby boomers suffering from stress, depression and other physical and emotional ailments or are contemplating suicide need to reach out — to your doctor, family members, friends and other professionals — and get help now. Local baby boomers can anonymously call this local Suicide Hotline -1-800-422-0009.