HealthDay News — Suicide rates among middle-aged American men and women increased 28.4% (P<0.001) from 1999 to 2010, according to the CDC.

During the 12-year-period, the annual age-adjusted suicide rate among those aged 35 years through 64 years rose from 13.7 to 17.6 per 100,000 population, the agency reported in Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

Age-adjusted suicide rates for persons aged 10 to 34 years and for those 65 years and older were comparatively small and not statistically significant.

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American Indian/Alaska Natives and whites saw the greatest increases at 65.2% and 40.4%, respectively. Suicide rates jumped from 11.2 to 18.5 per 100,000 population among American Indian/Alaska Natives and from 15.9 to 22.3 per 100,000 population among whites.

Although firearms remained the most common method, the proportion of suicides by suffocation or poisoning grew more quickly over time, National Vital Statistics System data revealed.

The annual rate of suicide by gun increased 14.4% from 7.2 to 8.3 per 100,000 from 2009 to 2010. However, suicide by suffocation, such as hanging, increased 81.3% from 2.3 to 4.1 per 100,000. Suicide by poisoning, mostly from drug overdose, increased 24.4% from 3.0 to 3.8 per 100,000.

Last year, the CDC reported that suicide had surpassed motor vehicle accidents as the most common cause of injury deaths in the United States. The increase specifically among middle-aged Americans is troublesome, as most suicide prevention programs are aimed at at younger people and older adults.

“Suicide is a tragedy that is far too common,” CDC Director Tom Frieden, MD, said in a statement. “This report highlights the need to expand our knowledge of risk factors so we can build on prevention programs that prevent suicide.”

Suicide rates among 35 to 65 year olds rose in all 50 states, according to the CDC, and rose significantly in 39. By region, the Midwest saw the greatest increases from 12.7 to 17.3 per 100,000 (35.6%), whereas the West continued to have the highest overall rates at 15.8 per 100,000 in 1999 and 17.8 in 2010 (23.6% increase).

Increases in annual suicide rates were greater among women than men — 31.5% vs. 27.3% — and greatest among those aged 55 through 59 years at 49%.

The researchers acknowledged several study limitations, including the potential for underreporting in National Vital Statistics System data and variations in determining the manner of death.


  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Suicide among adults aged 35–64 years — United States, 1999–2010” MMWR 2013;62:321-325.