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Grim rise in suicides by baby boomers

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Cathy KelleyAlthough experts have long thought of midlife as a time of stability and emotional contentment, baby boomers are proving to be an unfortunate exception. Reversing a longtime demographic trend, midlife suicides are on the rise for the generation born between 1946 and 1964.

National figures from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicate that the suicide rate for people in this age group rose by almost 30 percent during the decade ending in 2010, even as the rate among people 85 and older – traditionally, the demographic most likely to kill themselves – dropped by 12 percent.

For people ages 45 to 54, the suicide rate was 19.6 per 100,000 in 2010. For people ages 55 to 64, it was 17.5 per 100,000. For the whole population, the national rate was 12.4 per 100,000 that year, according to the CDC.

"Historically, people in this middle-aged group have had flat rates of suicide," said Julie Phillips, the Rutgers University social demographer whose research helped identify the trend.

"After 50 to 60 years of data, to see this spike for this generation, it's time for us to figure out what's going on."

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