Suicide on the rise for middle-aged Ariz. adults - Fox 2 News Headlines

Suicide on the rise for middle-aged Ariz. adults

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It's a topic that's tough to talk about: suicide.

But according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more people now die of suicide than in car crashes.

Arizona has one of the highest middle-aged suicide rates in the country.

12 years ago, Lisa Clark masked her sadness with a smile.

"[I was] just trying to make ends meet as single mom. [I] didn't have any family or friends here and a new job and my dad died. He was my rock, you know, the person who believed in me no matter what, accepted me no matter what, and then he was gone," said Clark.

She struggled to get out of bed and lost interest in the things that once made her smile.

"I had made the decision that I was going to kill myself. I tried to get a hold of my sister-in-law to make sure the kids would be taken care of. [I] couldn't get a hold of her, so I went to work the next day was crying, crying, crying and my boss saw the signs and talked to me about it," said Clark.

Clark says her boss saved her life. A simple conversation led Clark to counseling for a year and half.

"They were able to be my strength to get up every day when I couldn't do it," said Clark.

Now the 41-year-old is the one giving offering counseling at Empact Suicide Prevention Center.

She says since 2010, she's seen the sharp rise in suicide rates.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly 34,000 people died in car accidents, compared to nearly 39,000 from suicide in the past decade.

"I definitely think it's the economy tanking and then not recovering as fast," said Clark.

Clark says more baby boomers began calling in 2010 when they faced financial trouble.

From 1999 to 2010, the suicide rate of adults between 35-to 64-years-old rose by 30 percent nationally.

In Arizona, 589 middle- aged adults committed suicide in 2010, 16 percent more than a decade earlier.

"People have a hard time, especially at that age, because we're established, this is who we are in our career and it's gone or you can't live the lifestyle that you though you could live," said Clark.

Clark's plan was to overdose on medicine that could actually be a part of the rise in suicide rates: easy access to prescription drugs.

"One of the challenges is that you can go from psychiatrist to psychiatrist to medical doctor and get several prescriptions. Nobody tracks them," said Clark.

The CDC reports a 24 percent increase in overdose suicides in the past decade.

Clark says suicidal people see it as a non-violent escape.

"My family will think that I just mixed up my prescriptions and fell asleep," said Clark.

Now back with her husband, and a new grandmother, Clark says the decision she almost made is devastating to think about.

"I would have missed high school graduation, reunions, the birth of my granddaughter, so many things that at the time I couldn't see," said Clark.

She wants everyone to know that one conversation can save a life.

"Please reach out and ask because truly, it can get better," said Clark.

Empact Suicide Prevention

Crisis line: 480-784-1500
Office number: 480-784-1514

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