The significant jump in suicide attempts by middle-age men and women may reflect the aging population as baby boomers enter middle-age, Delany said.
He's concerned that middle-aged people get less attention than teenagers or the elderly who attempt to kill themselves. Many middle-age patients who attempt suicide are released from the emergency room without a follow-up plan, Delany said.
"We know the number one indicator of future suicide attempts and even suicide completion is a previous attempt," he said. "For professionals in the emergency room, it's really important that there be a really good discharge plan and some clear follow-up."
In addition, you have to bring the family in, Davis said. "There really has to be a community effort to help people," he added.
In one report, SAMHSA zeroed in on suicide attempts by people ages 45 to 64. In 2011, 96 percent of emergency room visits for attempted suicide involved the nonmedical use of prescription drugs and over-the-counter medications, the agency found.
These included anti-anxiety and insomnia medications (48 percent), pain relievers (29 percent), and antidepressants (22 percent).
Alcohol accounted for 39 percent of those mid-life suicide attempts and illegal drugs for 11 percent, the report said.
Dr. Eric Collins, an addiction psychiatrist at Silver Hill Hospital in New Canaan, Conn., said that as people age, they typically use less lethal means to attempt suicide -- "pills versus guns."
Collins said doctors need to be aware if their patients suffer from depression or anxiety. "These are treatable conditions," he said.
But Davis added that mental health services are in short supply. "We need more treatment facilities," he said.
"We also need to decrease the amount of prescription narcotics, sleep and anti-anxiety medications being prescribed," he said. "Doctors aren't to blame, but we must take ownership and responsibility for this."<
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