Apparently, it's not all roses and champagne for middle-aged Americans: Suicide rates are soaring for the 40-64 age group, according to an article in the Los Angeles Times.
The numbers are indeed alarming: from 1999 to 2005, suicides amongst white Boomers rose 17% (16% for men, 19% (!) for women); and 7% amongst black Boomers (5% for men, 14% (!) for women). These rises helped increase the overall suicide rate in the nation to 5% -- a huge difference from the previous period of 1986-1999, which saw an 18% drop.
Yikes! What's going on here? The researchers offered some ideas, from the improbable (menopausal women stopped taking hormone-replacement therapy due to cancer scares) to the possible (post-9/11 anxieties) to the plausible (a concurrent increase in abuse of prescription pain pills, such as OxyContin).
But it was an almost-throwaway line in the article that made the most sense to me. I think perhaps the stresses of modern everyday life (can you say Sandwich Generation?) , combined with disillusionment that life may not turn out exactly how we dreamed (can you say Economic Meltdown?) have caused a Perfect Storm of hopelessness and depression amongst many Boomers -- too many of whom, unfortunately, decide on a permanent "out."
All the more reason to do whatever you can to relieve stress and maintain a positive attitude through these most trying of times. So, go take a walk or hit the gym. Compose a "kiss-off" letter to that jerky boss (and hide it away safely!). Call a friend for an impromptu lunch. Hug your kids, and kiss your honey.
Here's to keeping that glass half-full!!