Suicide Rates Rise Sharply For Middle Aged NY’ers

Suicide rates rise sharply:  The suicide rate among middle-aged New Yorkers shot up 42 percent in a decade, outpacing the 28 percent increase seen among peers nationwide, the government reported Thursday.

Among 35- to 64-year-olds, New York suicides went from 8.3 per 100,000 in 1999 to 11.7 in 2010, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report said.

While the increase is startling, the rate itself is among the lowest in the country. The rate among all Americans in the age group was 17.6 per 100,000 in 2010, up from 13.7 in 1999.

State mental health officials were reviewing the report and declined to immediately comment on what may have led to the sharper increase seen in New York.

A shortage of mental health care providers and difficulty accessing available services may have contributed, said Steven Dubovsky, chairman of psychiatry at the University at Buffalo.

“Access to mental health services in New York state is quite complicated,” Dubovsky said. “There’s enormous regulation of mental health care in New York, to the extent that it has made proper treatment of some people an overwhelming possibility.”

He cited a historical lack of coordination among agencies that treat substance abuse and mental health issues like depression, even though the problems often go hand-in-hand.

The state may also have been harder hit by financial problems arising from the recession and mortgage crisis seen during the decade, Dubovsky said.

While suicide prevention efforts often target teenagers and the elderly, the CDC report said the findings highlight the need for strategies that address the stresses and challenges faced by middle-aged adults, including health problems and the dual challenge of caring for children and aging parents.

New York’s overall suicide rate was 6.8 per 100,000 from 2008-10, state statistics show, with rural upstate communities most affected and the New York City area posting the lowest rates. The national rate is 11.3suicides per 100,000 people, according to the CDC.