WASHINGTON - Suicide rates for middle-aged people are edging up - particularly for white men without college degrees, U.S. researchers said Monday.
Middle-aged people usually have a relatively low risk for suicide, but baby boomers are bucking this trend, according to sociologists Julie Phillips of Rutgers University and Ellen Idler of Emory University.
"If these trends continue, they are cause for concern," they wrote in the journal Public Health Reports.
The period they studied preceded the most recent economic crisis, but the researchers suggested poor health and a bad economy may be driving the increase.
The suicide rate for men age 40 to 49 was 21.8 per 100,000 in 1979 and had risen to 25 per 100,000 by 2005. For men 50 to 59, it was 23.9 in 1979, fell to 20.4 per 100,000 in 1999 and rose again to nearly 23.8 in 2005.
For women it was much lower - 7.8 per 100,000 in 2005 for women age 40 to 49.
As other studies have shown, unmarried middle-aged men were 3.5 times as likely to commit suicide as married middle-aged men.