Suicide up among those in midlife

The NY Times just posted an article about the rather dramatic rise in suicide rates among those 45-54 years old.  It went up 20 percent in men and 31 percent in women in that age group.

Suicide is an ongoing problem in our culture.  We live in a world where the expectation of a perfect life is almost assumed.  On top of that, the increase of medications and other factors has made suicide rates almost epidemic in the United States.

How is a Christian to handle this?  Well, for starters, we do understand that suicide is a sin (5th commandment), but it is only a sin.  Jesus died for even that.  The notion of categorically condemning anyone who commits suicide is simple not in keeping with the Gospel.   Obviously some may commit suicide as the end of despair over the faith.  Others may do so because the pain becomes overwhelming.  For many, we never know the reasons for suicide.

I am saddened to hear of this trend, and will have to spend some time thinking about it.  Why the rise in this age group?  What has changed over the last decade in the United States that would warrant such a change?

God be merciful to us, as we remember those who have taken their own lives.  I have considered the same in dark hours of the night.  But God is merciful, and has spared me from that fate.  May it be so for one and all.

-DMR

8 thoughts on “Suicide up among those in midlife”

  1. This is just a gut feeling on my part, but I wonder if the increase may be related to unemployment or underemployment and job instability. Many people in that age group have lost their jobs to “offshoring” and, at that age, the prospects for starting over seem bleak.

  2. This is just a gut feeling on my part, but I wonder if the increase may be related to unemployment or underemployment and job instability. Many people in that age group have lost their jobs to “offshoring” and, at that age, the prospects for starting over seem bleak.

  3. The percentages could be misleading…..a huge segment of the population has moved into that midlife range. But, maybe that was taken into account.

    The reasons for midlife suicide…..who knows. For women, it might have to do with the empty nest, especially if mothers don’t realize that the purpose of raising children is so they can grow up and live on their own. But, many women have careers to provide a buffer against empty nest syndrome, so I’m probably wrong about that reason for midlife suicide.

    Actually, I read the obits everyday and rarely see one that indicates a middle-aged woman has taken her own life. Maybe it happens more on the east coast.

    Men in general, I would guess, commit more suicides. Men have a harder time with regret and loneliness, I think. They have to be macho and put on a good false front, but inside they are despondent.

    The type of person I’m describing isn’t one who’s been treated for mental illness and taking medication that goes awry and causes suicidal tendencies. That happens, but its not what I’m talking about.

    DMR,its good you have a compassionate view of suicide victims. That didn’t used to be the case with LCMS pastors. I know of a man who committed suicide in the mid-1960’s and his pastor didn’t want him buried in the church cemetery, but the deacons overruled the pastor, thank goodness.

    In another case I know of, in the 1950’s, a young man tragically took his own life, and his LCMS pastor wouldn’t even allow his casket into the sanctuary for the funeral, and he had to be buried somewhere else. Talk about adding insult to injury for that boy’s grieving parents. I can hardly comprehend such a thing.

    Suicide is terribly tragic, and overwhelmingly indicates the presence of despair and hopelessness, not the presence of evil, any more than any of the rest of us sinners are evil.

    In some cases, though, if the person has an overriding reason to move on……then what…..is suicide so wrong. I sometimes think of that Maximilian Kolbe (I hope that’s the right name), who went to the gas chamber in place of someone else. Basically, didn’t he commit suicide…..but, for a good reason. Just like Sidney Carton, too, at the end of A Tale of Two Cities.

  4. The percentages could be misleading…..a huge segment of the population has moved into that midlife range. But, maybe that was taken into account.

    The reasons for midlife suicide…..who knows. For women, it might have to do with the empty nest, especially if mothers don’t realize that the purpose of raising children is so they can grow up and live on their own. But, many women have careers to provide a buffer against empty nest syndrome, so I’m probably wrong about that reason for midlife suicide.

    Actually, I read the obits everyday and rarely see one that indicates a middle-aged woman has taken her own life. Maybe it happens more on the east coast.

    Men in general, I would guess, commit more suicides. Men have a harder time with regret and loneliness, I think. They have to be macho and put on a good false front, but inside they are despondent.

    The type of person I’m describing isn’t one who’s been treated for mental illness and taking medication that goes awry and causes suicidal tendencies. That happens, but its not what I’m talking about.

    DMR,its good you have a compassionate view of suicide victims. That didn’t used to be the case with LCMS pastors. I know of a man who committed suicide in the mid-1960’s and his pastor didn’t want him buried in the church cemetery, but the deacons overruled the pastor, thank goodness.

    In another case I know of, in the 1950’s, a young man tragically took his own life, and his LCMS pastor wouldn’t even allow his casket into the sanctuary for the funeral, and he had to be buried somewhere else. Talk about adding insult to injury for that boy’s grieving parents. I can hardly comprehend such a thing.

    Suicide is terribly tragic, and overwhelmingly indicates the presence of despair and hopelessness, not the presence of evil, any more than any of the rest of us sinners are evil.

    In some cases, though, if the person has an overriding reason to move on……then what…..is suicide so wrong. I sometimes think of that Maximilian Kolbe (I hope that’s the right name), who went to the gas chamber in place of someone else. Basically, didn’t he commit suicide…..but, for a good reason. Just like Sidney Carton, too, at the end of A Tale of Two Cities.

  5. Jeannelle,

    It’s not about machismo; it’s about meaning. Men find it in different ways than women. Not all “fronts” are false.

    Offering one’s own life to save another is not suicide. It’s self-sacrifice; a very different thing and a much better way to die than suicide.

  6. Jeannelle,

    It’s not about machismo; it’s about meaning. Men find it in different ways than women. Not all “fronts” are false.

    Offering one’s own life to save another is not suicide. It’s self-sacrifice; a very different thing and a much better way to die than suicide.

  7. For unknown reasons, the mountain states have the highest suicide rates in the United States. I lived in Colorado most of my life and few people were untouched by having a friend, family member, co-worker, or etc. take their lives.

    The aftermath is devastating for those left behind. What is startling, is that people on the peripheral who barely knew the deceased often felt a great deal of guilt for not noticing or reaching out or stepping in because they thought they might be down.

    Sadly, suicide is found to run in families and I’ve wondered if it is because of lack of proper care after a suicide. Suicide and murders of loved ones are ranked at the most difficult deaths for people to recover from.

  8. For unknown reasons, the mountain states have the highest suicide rates in the United States. I lived in Colorado most of my life and few people were untouched by having a friend, family member, co-worker, or etc. take their lives.

    The aftermath is devastating for those left behind. What is startling, is that people on the peripheral who barely knew the deceased often felt a great deal of guilt for not noticing or reaching out or stepping in because they thought they might be down.

    Sadly, suicide is found to run in families and I’ve wondered if it is because of lack of proper care after a suicide. Suicide and murders of loved ones are ranked at the most difficult deaths for people to recover from.

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