Depression and Suicide Among Older White Men Is No Laughing Matter

August 22, 2014 3:39 PM

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The death of beloved comedian Robin Williams is a stark reminder of how depression can ravage anyone, regardless of one's status or prominence in society. Caused by a complex interplay between genes and environment, depression continues to be a major mental health concern as prevalence rates remain among the highest relative to other psychiatric conditions. The lifetime estimate for major depressive is 16.6 percent (Kessler et al, 2005). Studies have reported lifetime estimates as high as 20 percent for women and 12 percent for men (Kessler, 1994). And not only are those rates increasing, but 80 percent of those afflicted will experience multiple episodes of the disorder (Kessler, et al, 2003).

Of particular note, the risk for suicide, one of the most tragic consequences of depression, is highest among older, white men who are depressed (CDC data). The risk for those who struggle with depression and substance abuse is even greater.

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