Suicides for NY's Middle Aged Jump 42 % in a Decade, Ignoring Mental Health to Blame

May 12, 2014


  One of the most prevalent health issues is literally killing people in New York at a rate that’s jumped in the last decade.  May is mental health awareness month…and experts say many either ignore or avoid getting diagnosed.  David Hullett is medical director for Optum, part of United Health Group to improve care and services.  He says disorders might hospitalize someone…but others are on the more mild side of the spectrum.

“One of the most common mental health disorders is major depression.  But some people with major depression, they’re sitting beside you at work; they’re flying your airplane; they’re driving the bus.  They continue to function and you may not even know what is going on in their head or how much that depression is affecting them.” 

  Hullett says many people never get treatment.  It might be ignoring signs that a disorder is preventing someone from functioning normally.  It could also be the stigma attached to a diagnosis.  Unchecked mental health has led to a striking effect in a certain part of the state’s population.

“In New York, in particular, the suicide rate among middle-aged residents, 35-64 years old, actually rose 42 % in the last decade.  Increasing rates of suicide in those baby-boomer populations is a significant issue in New York.” 

On the other hand, Hullett says New York is better than average in treatment penetration.  The state passed Timothy’s Law that went into effect in 2007, mandating insurance plans to cover mental, nervous and emotional illnesses.  Evaluation and treatment options can be found at the state office of mental health: OMH.NY.GOV