Suicides spike for middle-aged adults

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GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (KKCO) -- The latest report from the Center for Disease Control shows suicides among middle-aged adults have increased 28 percent from 1999-2010.

For Martin Duarte, the statistics hit close to home. Duarte's brother committed suicide in 2008 at age 35. Three years later, Duarte's twin-sister committed suicide. She was 40.

"Nobody really thinks that anybody would really do it," Duarte said. "I never thought in a million years that either one of them would do it, and here we are."

Unfortunately, Duarte's experience is an all-too-common one among U.S. families. Suicides now take more American's lives than car accidents do, according to the CDC.

Shelley Millsap, licensed professional counselor, said the economy is a major driving force behind suicides, though other factors-- such as loneliness, aging and health factors-- also play a role.

Millsap acknowledged additional pressure on the babyboom generation to maintain a particular image.

Erica Kitzman with the National Alliance on Mental Illness said the first step in combating suicides is fighting the stigma associated with mental illness.

"If people start looking at it as a medical emergency and not a character defect, then I think they'd be more likely to go to their doctor or therapist or best friend," Kitzman said.

Kitzman said it's crucial to confront someone directly if you suspect they may be having suicidal thoughts. She also recommends people be direct and honest with their doctor about what feelings they are having, rather than saying they aren't feeling well.

A variety of resources are available for people experiencing suicidal thoughts or who know someone experiencing those thoughts.

Colorado West Mental Health Center offers a 24/7 crisis hotline at 970-241-6022. The center also offers free peer support classes. For more information, visit the link below.

A variety of specialized mental health magazines on topics ranging from bipolar disorder to the latest legislation on mental health, are available at Colorado Mesa University's Tomlinson LIbrary.

Western Colorado Suicide Prevention Foundation offers training on how to spot a mental health crisis and how to respond. Click the links below for more information.

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