Suicide numbers on the rise, white middle aged men have the highest rates

According to the American Association of Suicidology, white middle aged men have the highest suicide rates in America, and the numbers have continued to climb for the past 10 years.

In 2015, suicide was the 10th leading cause of death in the U.S. That year, 44,193 people committed suicide. Of those, 33,994 were men, and 30,658 were white men.

Kern County Mental Health Director Bill Walker notes that when there is an economy downturn, one of the groups that is hit the hardest is white men.

“They are often in the role of being the provider for their families,” said Walker. “What if suddenly I didn’t have a job ... and suddenly I can’t provide?”

But health leaders say suicide is not always about finances.

Ellen Eggert is the program supervisor for the Kern County Mental Health Crisis Hotline. She said many middle aged men who have health problems, history of mental illness or substance abuse, or who have experienced sudden loss, may suffer from suicidal thoughts.

“A lot of people who die by suicide feel like a burden, even though they are not. They feel alone. They have a capability for death, and they are not afraid to die,” said Eggert.

Health leaders say these are some of the suicide warning signs to look out for:

  • Increased substance (alcohol or drug) use
  • No reason for living; no sense of purpose in life
  • Anxiety, agitation, unable to sleep or sleeping all of the time
  • Feeling trapped - like there's no way out
  • Hopelessness
  • Withdrawal from friends, family and society
  • Rage, uncontrolled anger, seeking revenge
  • Acting reckless or engaging in risky activities, seemingly without thinking
  • Dramatic mood changes

If observed, health leaders encourage people to seek help as soon as possible by contacting a mental health professional.

The crisis hotline is available 24/7 for anyone who needs to talk or needs mental health resources. The number is (800) 991-5272.

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