Posted on August 21, 2006

Report: Elderly White Males Have Top Suicide Rate

Rummana Hussain, Chicago Sun-Times, August 18, 2006

Elderly white males are more likely to kill themselves than any other group, a new Population Reference Bureau report reveals.

While suicide is the 11th leading cause of death in the United States, with 11 suicide deaths per 100,000 Americans, Caucasian men over the age of 65 commit suicide at almost triple that overall rate, the report said.

This group is also more than eight times as likely to kill themselves as women of the same age and has twice the suicide rate of all of their male contemporaries.

And their risk increases as they get older. White men 85 and above have the highest annual suicide rate compared with others, at 51.4 deaths per 100,000, the report said.

Common medical knowledge

Local doctors and suicide experts said it’s hard to pinpoint exactly why there is a high suicide rate among older white males, a phenomenon they said is common knowledge in the medical field.

Some researchers assert that many older white males are more likely to keep to themselves and lack the resilience and coping mechanisms honed among women and other ethnic groups.

Men, socialized to be in control, can succumb to depression as they age and can easily kill themselves if they don’t have someone around to stop them, researchers said.