Baby boomers have the highest rate of suicide

More than today’s teenagers, more than the elderly, a struggling slice of the 76 million Americans born between the mid-1940s and mid-1960s is showing a willingness to kill themselves. Some experts say that generation has always been more prone than others to self-destruction.

Beginning around 2008, as the nation’s economy slid into recession, the suicide rates of adults between ages 45 and 64 surpassed rates for people older than 85 — and far beyond suicide numbers for teens and young adults — and led all age brackets, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

For people in their prime wage-earning years, history reveals “an association between suicide rates and economic expansion or contraction,” said the CDC’s Alex Crosby, an epidemiologist. Rates of suicide tend to rise in a financial downturn only for those in midlife, he said, “not for those over 65, and not for those under 25.”

Experts say job loss, home loss and flat-line incomes aren’t the only factors driving up suicides among baby boomers. Chronic diseases, alcohol abuse, the splintering of relationships and a reliance on painkillers also come into play.

Some contend a generation that started out with lofty goals always has been dogged by conditions that signal distress, posting through the decades unprecedented rates of depression, divorce and eating disorders.

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