Stuck in The Doldrums: The Alarming Rise of White Despair In America
No one has quite been able to put their finger on it. But there is something definitely afoot in America, with an alarming rise in suicides among individuals between the ages of 35-64. This trend has disproportionately affected middle-aged white Americans, who have seen a whopping forty percent increase in the suicide rate since 1999. The rise in the white suicide rate, particularly among people in prime working age should serve as a canary in the coal mine, warning us of a larger sociological problem in America.
The problem has been studied from a psychological angle, and even from the perspective of the declining economic fortunes faced by many Americans since the great recession. But this trend precedes the great recession, although signs point to the fact that the country’s economic woes may have a compounding factor on the alarming increase in suicides. While suicides increased by 1 percent from 1999-2006, the rate of increase doubled to 2 percent after 2007. Other studies have pointed to drug and alcohol abuse – especially the proliferation of prescription pain narcotics – as a reason for the number increased deaths. But even that explanation fails to satisfy the curious observer. Isn’t drug abuse, especially prescription drug abuse among middle-aged people, merely a symptom of a deeper malady that has beset America?