CINCINNATI (AP) — The suicide rate among middle-aged Ohio residents rose 41.5 percent over the past decade, the 15th-biggest increase in the nation and higher than most neighboring states, according to a report released Thursday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Ohio recorded 783 suicides among people 35 to 64 years old in 2010, compared with 517 in 1999. The rate increase was significantly greater than the national figure of 28 percent and higher than the increases seen in Kentucky, West Virginia and Pennsylvania. It was about even with Michigan, while Indiana had a rate increase of 53.8 percent.
The states with the highest increases were Wyoming at 78.8 percent, North Dakota at 70.5 percent and Rhode Island at 69.1 percent, though the actual suicide numbers in those smaller states still are relatively low, between 47 and 92 in 2010.
No state experienced a decrease.
In the U.S., suicides are more common than homicides, and at more than 38,300, were the 10th-leading cause of death in the country in 2010, according to the most recent CDC data available.
Possible contributing factors to the recent uptick in suicides among the middle-aged include the economic downturn and the increasing availability of prescription drugs, according to the report.
Other stressors cited were split families, aging parents and health problems.
Liz Atwell, chief operating officer of Mental Health America of Northern Kentucky and Southwest Ohio, said she's sure that increased unemployment has partially caused the suicide rate to spike.
"When I think about that age range and time period, I'm thinking of the recession and those risk factors for that age group — that's when people are going through a divorce or get forced into early retirement," Atwell said. "They lose their identity. You don't know what to do with yourself."