Middle-Aged Women Suicide Rates Climbing

Middle-Aged Women Suicide Rates Climbing

Newark : NJ : USA | Jul 27, 2011 at 10:39 AM PDT
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Dependent Personality Disorder (Mental Health Guru)

Contributing factors from expert theories include substance abuse and depression

Today’s news headlines include the suicide of Gail Boledovich, just two days before her 49th birthday. Boledovich had battled schizophrenia for three years, and endured hallucinations and delusions. The loss of her life was due to an overdose of prescription strength Benadryll pills which were prescribed as a sleep aide.

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration new report reveals a forty-nine percent increase of visits in the emergency department for drug related suicide attempts from women fifty years or older.

Suicides in maximum numbers of women between the ages of forty and sixty-nine have been reported by new research on age specific suicide rates between the years 1998 to 2007.

The formidable question arises why this increase is occurring in middle aged women.

Could it just be the numbers play a key element? One in four American adults has a treatable mental health condition. Middle-aged women are one of the most rapid growing populations in the country.

Could it be the climbing numbers of substance abuse among baby boomers? This being one of the important risk factors of suicide according to Dr. Julie Phlllips, PhD, associate professor at Rutgers University and social demographer in New Jersey.

Dr. Phillips had measured the age specific rates from information from the National Center for Health Static’s and the Census Bureau. In the nine year time frame she had examined suicide rates were fairly constant for women under forty and women older than seventy, those rates were actually decreasing.

Dr. Albert Woodward, PhD, project director of SAMHSA’s Drug Abuse Warning Network comments that women over the age of fifty could be in a critical situation due to pain and sleep disorders, normal aging issues which can result in a higher use of prescription drugs. According to the report from SAMHSA, attempts of suicide which involve drugs for the treatment of anxiety and insomnia have increased by 56%. Dr. Woodward also notes that older women could experience depression due to changes in health and other life events.

Dr. Ellyn Kaschak, PhD, retired professor of psychology at San Jose State University and editor of the journal Women & Therapy, remarked loneliness and depression are also suicide risk factors. She notes that especially older American women are more isolated and separated from daily human contact outside of work and the internet.

Discovered through her online surveys, lectures and focus groups, Dr. LeslieBeth Wish, psychologist and licensed clinical social worker in Sarasota, Florida found a frightening increase in suicide attempts from women aged 45 to 54 years old. Women are exposed to depression however; older women may also be experiencing pre-menopause hormone changes that could affect changes in mood and depression. In addition, current long-term illnesses such as multiple sclerosis can become worse and breast cancers and other cancers could be diagnosed.

Further stated by Dr. Wish is middle-aged women are more aware of their mortality and could be disappointed or let down that it is too late for happiness. Transforming into becoming an empty nester can cause stress in some women.

Julie Boledovich Farhat, daughter of Gail, in honoring her mother along with her three siblings have started Mind Over Matter (MOM). This small non-profit whose direction is to promote mental health awareness and also raising funds for research and suicide prevention in Michigan. Julie comment about her love for her mother does place emphasis on one important fact “the way she died had nothing to do with the person she was.”

To learn more about Mom you can view their website at Mind Over Matter Race. Org.

The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention has a list of warning signs of suicide which can be viewed on their site. The warming signs include:

Observable signs of serious depression:

Unrelenting low mood




Anxiety, psychic pain and inner tension


Sleep problems

Increased alcohol and/or other drug use

Debbie Nicholson is based in Detroit, Michigan, United States of America, and is an Anchor on Allvoices.
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