Suicides by middle-aged Americans have increased sharply in the last decade, and health officials believe it may be due to the reccesion.
The rate of suicides jumped up 28 percent for those aged 35 to 64, according to a report released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The trend was most noticeable among white males and females. Their suicide rate jumped 40 percent between 1999 and 2010. The CDC report based its data on death certificates from the period.
The largest increases in suicide were seen among people ages 55 to 59, with a 49 percent increase. Ages 50 to 54 reported a 48 percent increase.
"Suicide is a tragedy that is far too common. This report highlights the need to expand our knowledge of risk factors so we can build on prevention programs that prevent suicide," CDC Director Tom Frieden told Reuters.
However, suicide rates for middle-aged blacks and Hispanics didn't change much nor did the rates for people younger than 35 or older than 64.
Experts say the recession may have been much more traumatic for middle-aged people. Compared to black or Hispanic groups, Caucasians generally don't have as much outside or extended family support. Baby boomers also have typically higher rates of suicide as they age.
"Some of us think we're facing an upsurge as this generation moves into later life," said Dr. Eric Caine, a suicide researcher at the University of Rochester to the Associated Press.
The most common ways people killed themselves were by using firearms, drug overdoses or by hanging. Suicide has now become the fourth-largest cause of death for Americans, only behind cancer, heart disease and accidents.
The U.S. economy went into a recession twice during the time period studied in the report. Between 2007 and 2009, the unemployment level skyrocketed to 10 percent.