Suicide Rate Rising Among Older Men, Report Says

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Nov. 15, 2023 -- Suicide rates rose in the United States in 2021 and were especially high among older men, according to a new report from the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics.

The figures show about 30 men age 55 and older died by suicide per 100,000 population. That’s double the overall age-adjusted rate of about 14 per 100,000 people.

Men 85 and older had the highest rate, with almost 56 suicide deaths per 100,000 people. That was the highest of any age group.

Among men age 55 and older, suicide rates increased across all age groups between 2001 and 2021, although only the increases for men ages 55–64 (from 21.2 deaths per 100,000 population to 26.6) and men ages 65–74 (from 24.5 to 26.1) were significant.

“The researchers found that among adults age 55 years and older, the highest rates of suicide in 2021 were among those age 85 years and older for men and 55 to 64 years for women (55.7 and 7.8 deaths, respectively, per 100,000 population),” HealthDay wrote.

The researchers wrote that, “Among adults age 55 and older, the suicide rate for men generally increased with age, while the suicide rate for women decreased with age.”

Yeates Conwell, MD, a psychiatry professor at the University of Rochester who was not involved in the new report, told CNN that five major factors can contribute to suicide risk: depression, disease, disability, disconnection and deadly means. The combination can be “relatively more salient for older adults,” he said.

“Imagine a Venn diagram with these five circles, each representing one of those ‘Ds’ that overlap. The more of the intersecting circles one is in, the greater the risk,” Conwell said.

Older people tend to have more physical illness and disability, along with greater social isolation, and the compounding factors make them more vulnerable, he said.