HealthDay News — The financial stress of the last recession likely contributed to a recent increase in suicides among middle-aged Americans, researchers report.

Job, financial or legal problems played a role in 37.5% of all completed middle-age suicides in 2010, up from just under 33% of suicides in 2005, according to findings published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

Mental health problems remained the leading factor in middle-aged suicides, and were involved in four out of five suicide deaths, the study noted.

But financial pressures probably played a key role in triggering suicidal action in someone who might have only been contemplating suicide, the study authors added. However, the study could only find an association between tough economic times and suicide rates, it couldn’t prove cause and effect.

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Overall, suicide rates for U.S. adults between the ages of 40 and 64 have risen about 40% since 1999, the study found.

However, what had been a slow, steady increase in suicides among that age group jumped dramatically between 2007 and 2010.

The researchers found an increase between 2005 and 2010 in middle-aged suicides involving external circumstances such as job loss or financial pressure. During the same period, suicides involving personal or interpersonal circumstances either remained stable or declined.

Younger people — those under 40 — did not show the same increased influence of financial factors on their decision to die by suicide, the researchers found. The percentage of suicides among younger adults linked to job loss or financial hardship remained level, even as these problems played an increasing role in middle-aged suicides.


Hempstead JA and Phillips KA. Rising Suicide Among Adults Aged 40–64 Years. Am J Prev Med. DOI: