Baby Boomers Battle Their DemonsJuly 28, 2011 No Comments
Whether it’s depression, loneliness, substance abuse or other mental health conditions, middle-aged women are losing the battle against their demons.
Women from the age of 40-69 are the most at-risk of taking their own lives, according to a new report released from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).
The report goes on to dole out grave statistics. Perhaps the worst is that there has been a “49 percent increase in emergency department visits for drug-related suicide attempts for women aged 50 and older.” Overall, older women are more likely to commit suicide than younger women. So why is suicide age-specific for women?
Researchers do say that it could just be due to an aging population. “One in four adults in the US has a treatable mental health condition, and middle-aged women are one of the fastest-growing populations in the country,” says Julie Phillips, social demographer and associate professor at Rutgers University in New Jersey. However, more serious reasons connecting older women with suicide are substance abuse, pain and sleep disorders such as anxiety and insomnia, loneliness and depression.
Through online surveys, lectures and focus groups, Dr. LeslieBeth Wish, a psychologist and licensed clinical social worker in Sarasota, Florida, has found an increase in suicide attempts for women between the ages of 45 and 54. She believes that older women may also suffer from pre-menopause hormone changes that can result in “mood changes and depression.” She also reveals an overall feeling of hopeless that makes the middle-aged demographic unique. “Middle-aged women are more aware of their mortality and may be disappointed and disillusioned that it’s too late for happiness,” she says.
So armed with this knowledge, what can we do to help? For starters, we can raise awareness of mental health illnesses and the methods we can adopt to combat these debilitating disorders. Mind Over Matter (MOM) was created by a woman in honour of her mother, who took her own life. The non-profit organization raises money and awareness in the name of women’s mental health.
Organizations like MOM are an inspiration for us all. The more attention we can draw to the issue, the more women we may be able to save.
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