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Suicide rate sharply increases among middle-aged New Yorkers

A rise in suicide rates among middle-aged New Yorkers is growing at an alarming rate. According to the CDC, the suicide rate among 35 to 64 year olds grew 42 percent in the last decade, from 8.3 suicides per 1,000 people in 1999 to 11.7 in 2010.
Syracuse (WSYR-TV) -- A rise in suicide rates among middle-aged New Yorkers is growing at an alarming rate. According to the CDC, the suicide rate among 35 to 64 year olds grew 42 percent in the last decade, from 8.3 suicides per 1,000 people in 1999 to 11.7 in 2010.

Dr. Robert Gregory, a psychiatrist at Upstate University Hospital, says the economy likely has something to do with it.

“This is very much a sandwich generation, too. They’re trying to take care of elderly parents, in addition to worrying about their children, being able to get them into college, college costs have gone up,” explained Gregory.

Total assets – like the value of their home – may have gone down and work is no guarantee either.

“If they lost their job, that’s also a challenging thing to their identity and worth as a person,” Gregory continued.

Access to proper care may play a part as well. Gregory says the rising cost of healthcare typically doesn’t include mental healthcare. Reimbursement rates in the industry remain low, which can make psychiatrists hard to find.

Whatever the reason, there is help and it’s just a phone call away. Contact Community Services in East Syracuse has specially trained line workers who are standing by to take your call 24 hours a day. Staff is specially trained in what’s called “reflective listening.”

"We check into their emotional state and make a connection with them, about them, where they are in their lives,” said Don Mackay with Contact Community Services, “and try to find out ways to show them that there are things worth living for.”

While the suicide rate among middle aged people in New York is alarming, it's still one of the lowest in the country. The national average is nearly 6 percent higher.

“Having said that, the finding is real and it's something we need to pay attention to and figure out what's going on," said Gregory.

If you need someone to talk to, day or night, call the Community Services hotline at (315) 435-8300.
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