Elderly White Men Afflicted by High Suicide Rates
U.S. Medical System Often Not Set Up to Detect Depression in the Aging
by Sandra Yin (August 2006)
While suicide is the 11th leading cause of death in the United States, with 11 suicide deaths per 100,000 Americans, white men over the age of 65 commit suicide at almost triple that overall rate.3 These men are also eight times more likely to kill themselves than are women of the same age group, and have almost twice the rate of all other groups of male contemporaries.
Grim Comparisons by Sex, Race, and Ethnicity
Overall, three times as many women as men in the United States report a history of attempted suicide.5 But men are four times more likely to actually kill themselves.6 Choice of method may play a role in explaining this gender disparity: White men tend to use more violent and more lethal means than other suicide victims. In 2001, 73 percent of all suicide deaths and 80 percent of all firearm suicide deaths were white males.7
Disparities along ethnic lines for elderly males are also substantial. Compared with white males ages 65 and older, African American males (9.2 suicides per 100,000), Hispanic or Latino males (15.6), and Asian or Pacific Islander males (17.5) in the same age range had significantly lower suicide rates (see Figure 2).
Male Death Rates for Suicide, by Race, Hispanic Origin, and Age, 2003
Source: National Center for Health Statistics, Health, United States, 2005.
And as black and white men age, the gap in suicide rates between the two groups widens considerably. White males in the 45-64 age range commit almost three times as many suicides (26.1 per 100,000) as their black male contemporaries (at 9.0 per 100,000). The disparity grows among those ages 75-84 (37.5 per 100,000 for whites, compared with 11.3 per 100,000 for black males).
And suicide grows as a risk for white elderly males as they age. White men ages 85 and older have the highest annual suicide rate of any group—51.4 deaths per 100,000. In contrast, the highest rate for white women peaks between ages 45 and 64 at 7.8 deaths per 100,000.
Source- Elderly White Men Afflicted by High Suicide Rates - Population Reference Bureau