Tuesday, October 21, 2008

What's bugging the Boomers?

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!! 


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