There's an epidemic of suicide among white folks aged 40-64, especially women, with their numbers rising 3.7 per year from 1999-2005.
These are supposed to be the good times. The kids get bigger and start their lives, the grandchildren start arriving, and earnings are at their peak. Most of the time my wife and I are extremely happy.
Which leads to my theory. What if you're not? What if you're a middle-aged white woman and your marriage is horrible, or your spouse has passed on. What if you've devoted yourself to a career and lost your job?
Minority women have faced these trials for generations. Same with old people. Psychiatric professionals are trained to be on guard, and many of my black lady friends have churches which offer great comfort in these times of stress.
What the National Institutes for Mental Health takes from this is that professionals need to be on watch.
But there's another theory, which Eric Caine of the University of Rochester noted in a study last December. Access.
Caine noted that suicide rates jump after kids pass 18. "A lot of those [suicide prevention] programs go away when you’re 18 — but you don’t go away.”
The same may be true for many people my age, especially women. Most I know are focused on their families, their kids especially, and regularly do without to care for others. When they need help they fall through the cracks.
And what if you're out of work, without health coverage? The cracks in the suicide prevention statistics, in other words, map closely to those who are left at risk by the system, through losing parents' health insurance or losing their own.
Money can drive you crazy and crazy can drive you to suicide. We treat mental health care as a luxury and we lose people.
That's my theory, anyway. What's yours?