Why are there so many midlife suicides?

As an well-informed boomer and specialist in midlife psychology, I have been trying to draw attention by writing about and publishing pieces on the ALARMING increase in depression and suicide among Boomers, especially among women going through menopause,  since 2008.


In 2013,  when my cousin killed himself and my brother John disappeared after descending into a profound, private despair, I dedicated my book: Find Your Reason To Be Here: The Search for Meaning in Midlife, to themas I continued to seek a deeper understanding of the reasons why midlife suicides keep rising. Here’s an excerpt from one of those pieces from the Huffington Post, April 2013:

Why is Boomer Suicide on the Rise?

There have been a number of studies on boomer suicide that seek to explain why we continue to kill ourselves at an ever-increasing rate. Some say it is the period effect,” blaming the historical and cultural experiences we share as a generation. The “cohort effect“ theorizes that being born into the largest age cohort in American history created unbearable competition for limited resources, including jobs.

Then there are the facts: Boomers share higher depression and substance abuse rates than any previous American generation. Could it be that we did not face the kind of adversity growing up that creates successful coping skills? Were we raised to be too optimistic, and now find we cannot deal with how it all turned out?

Beyond all of the mythology around boomers, the fact is we now face extreme wage inequality, and the highest level of poverty since the generation born before World War I. We also face ever-increasing personal debt. In 1965, the ratio of household debt to income was 60%. In 2012, that ratio had risen to 163%.

We may have been born at the high point of American optimism, but that has vanished…

Some say Boomers have been witnesses to the death of the American dream. Most of us grew up with high expectations for our lives, but now, as we reassess where we’ve been and where we hope to go, we must admit, this is as good as it gets. We will never be richer or younger than we are right now.

I only know that I tire of so much misinformation about boomers and their lives. I have had enough personal experience with midlife depression to now feel determined to do what I can to alleviate some of the suffering, and this terrible waste of human potential.

Globally, about a million people kill themselves each year, the single largest cause of violent death. It remains mysterious and debilitating for those who surround every suicide and ask the question: What made him/her do it?

Laura small for blogThrough my research, I have learned just how normal and natural it is to feel depressed and disillusioned in our 40s and 50s as we discover that our lives may not turn out as previously planned. What is the best way to cope with these feelings of hopelessness? I share what I have learned in my ten years of research, and what has worked for me, in my books about boomer psychology, midlife despair and how to change your midlife for the better.

Please follow me on Twitter: https://twitter.com/midlifequeen
Laura Lee Carter, Midlife researcher, author, psychotherapist

11 thoughts on “Why are there so many midlife suicides?

  1. I was shocked with the two recent high profile suicides Laura Lee and it must have been so difficult losing your brother. I have been depressed over the years but never been to the point where I had lost all hope. It must be such a lonely feeling of despair. Thank you for highlighting this issue. xx


  2. This is a hard subject for me..with the 2nd anniversary of my son’s suicide coming up next month and all the celebrity news this past week…I know my son’s reasons…he told me what they were the night before he took his life. All the constant news of the celebs does not help those that are considering it…We need to be better with this.


  3. I was just contemplating the upcoming third anniversary of the death of my beloved ‘son’ Zachary. Nothing can replace him. So I do what I can to try to ensure his story is not repeated. Talking helps. Thank you for opening the dialogue.
    And I’m so sorry about your cousin’s death and following disappearance of your brother such a few short years ago. That is an ache that can never quite disappear. But what a profound difference you have made in the world because of your so-positive answer to your pain. Help others. Thank you, Laura Lee!


  4. So sorry for the loss of your cousin. Glad that your brother returned. This week with the two high profile suicides of Anthony Bourdain and Kate Spade is overwhelmingly sad. I wish they had been able to reach out to someone to prevent the loss of two such talented people. I’m glad I found mindfulness meditation and yoga at midlife and glad I became a yoga instructor during my second act so I can help others relax and be present.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. According to a Wikipedia article the US suicide rate is the 34th of all nations, or far from the highest rate worldwide. The US trails Russia, Japan and Belguim as well as many “less developed” nations. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_suicide_rate
    I’m at the tail end of the baby boom but something I’ve heard people talk about is that the boomers were the first generation to deal w/the fear of nuclear bombs. There were also quite a few who were born to refugees, including Holocaust survivors (my mother is a Holocaust survivor). In addition, ,many people my age entered the work force in the 1970’s, when inflation was high & increasing and the working & “middle” classes began to lose ground economically.
    Finally, how well people did w/out a college education really depended on other training: people who were trained (often by unions, in NYC where I lived at the time) to work on engines, whether small (personal motor vehicles), or large (bus, train, planes/jets) have done well, if they’ve managed to stay more or less physically intact. Some people received their initial training in vocational training courses in school (most of which have disappeared), others from unions, others through family businesses or by getting that first job.
    Same for plumbers & electricians, many of whom did and continue to make a good living. Those jobs are harder to outsource then those of some “professional” jobs that require college educations.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s