By the Associated Press
and Tribune Staff
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) - The suicide rate among Indiana's middle-aged population
surged nearly 54 percent from 1999 to 2010, an increase nearly twice the
national rate and one of the highest among the 50 states, according to a
federal report released Thursday.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's report shows Indiana's
suicide rate among people ages 35 to 64 rose from about 12.7 suicides per
100,000 residents in 1999 to about 19.5 suicides per 100,000 in 2010.
Indiana's nearly 54 percent suicide rate increase over that time frame was
the nation's eighth-highest.
Over the same period, the national suicide rate among middle-aged Americans
climbed 28 percent.
The CDC report spans 11 years that include the recession and the mortgage
crisis, but the report doesn't explore whether the economic upheaval or
other factors may have driven more middle-aged people to take their own
lives. In 1999, 289 middle-aged Indiana residents killed themselves, but
that rose to 506 suicides in 2010.
Thomas Simon, a researcher with the CDC's Injury Prevention Center, said the
data for the report was based on death certificates that don't include
information on economic stresses, substance abuse or mental health problems,
which makes it difficult to say with certainty what's driving the suicide
But Simon, who co-authored the report, said some of the possible factors
behind the increases could include the baby boomer generation's historically
higher suicide rate, rising substance abuse--particularly prescription drug
abuse and overdoses--and the impact of economic turmoil and uncertainties.
”We saw the burst of the dot.com bubble in 2001, we saw the Great Recession
from 2007 to 2009 and the instability associated with those incidents, so
that may be potentially contributing to the increase,” Simon said.
He said most suicide research and prevention efforts have focused on youths
and older adults and the report underscores the need for addressing
suicide-prevention strategies among middle-aged Americans. Between 1999 and
2010, Simon said, suicide rose from the eighth-leading cause of death among
middle-aged Americans to the fourth-leading cause, behind cancer, heart
disease and accidents.
Alice Jordan-Miles, director of the Indiana Suicide Prevention Coalition,
said state and federal budget cuts over the years may have played a role in
the increase by reducing the availability of mental health care for many
people who might not be able to afford it.
“There are still a lot of people whose families are facing budgetary
constraints,” she said. “If they have a session that costs $25, $35 an hour
versus putting food on their table, what do you think they're going to do?”
she said. “It's all about access to mental health care.”
Jordan-Miles also said that the stigma of mental health persists for all age
groups, keeping some people from seeking help when they need it.
She said the Indiana Suicide Prevention Coalition in partnership with state
officials recently released a new statewide suicide prevention plan--the
first such update since 2001. She said a daylong summit in September will
focus on how to implement the plan. That Indianapolis event will kick of
National Suicide Prevention Week in the state.
In Porter County
Meanwhile, in March, Porter County Coroner Chuck Harris reported that
suicides here were at an 18-year high in 2012: 39, compared to 19 in 2011,
an 89-percent increase. The next highest number of suicides over the last 18
years: 35 in 2009. The average number of suicides in each of the last 18
“Twenty percent of the Porter County Coroner’s Office cases involved
suicide, which is an astonishing figure,” Harris said at the time. “From my
office’s experience, these deaths usually are directly related to
relationship conflicts and economic desperation.”
“National averages show that 90 percent of people who die of suicide have a
diagnosable and treatable psychiatric disorder at the time of death,” Harris
added. “With these statistics I think it goes to show why treatment centers
like Porter-Starke are so greatly needed in our community. There is no
telling how many lives have been saved and not ended up becoming one of my