Suicide: a future boom for baby boomers?

Suicide: a future boom for baby boomers?

Judy Folkenberg

Suicide: A future boom for baby boomers?

In the 21st century, baby boomers may take their lives in alarming numbers.

“Suicide rates for the elderly can be expected to increase as `baby boom’ generations enter later life,” according to psychiatrist Dan G. Blazer and colleagues, who have reviewed suicide statistics among the elderly.

Even now, the highest suicide rate is among those 65 and older–eclipsing suicide rates among 18- to 24-year-olds. Though persons older than 65 compose approximately 11 percent of the population, they commit 17 percent of all reported suicides. Suicide ranks as one of the top 10 causes of death among individuals age 65 and older.

Blazer says the “prevalence of depression, a major cause of suicide, is higher among baby boomers than other age groups.” Researchers have found that behavioral patterns remain relatively constant as any particular age group grows older. Baby boomers, then, can be expected to take their lives in greater numbers when they age, compared with other groups, Blazer says. As further evidence, he points out that people who are now between the ages of 65 and 85 had lower rates of depression when they were between 25 and 40 than do the baby boomers now.

Baby boomers may also experience a more competitive job market, increased social stress, delayed marriage (and therefore delayed establishment of intimate relationships). They will have fewer children and therefore a smaller social network, frequent divorce and feelings of alienation, Blazer says.

COPYRIGHT 1987 Sussex Publishers, Inc.

COPYRIGHT 2004 Gale Group