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Opinion
Peter R. Orszag

Why Do More Men Commit Suicide?

Suicide researchers are puzzled by data showing that men commit suicide more often than women do -- about four times as often -- even though most studies find that women are twice as likely to be depressed and also more likely to have suicidal thoughts.
A tragedy in every way.
A tragedy in every way.

Robin Williams's death has brought welcome attention to the very real problem of suicide in the U.S. From 2000 to 2011, suicides increased to 12.3 per 100,000 people from 10.4. Deaths by suicide now exceed those from motor-vehicle accidents.

This is not, as you might think, a problem occurring disproportionately among teenagers or the very old. The people most prone to taking their own lives are those 45 to 59 years old (Robin Williams was 63). Suicides among those in their 50s have been rising especially fast: In 1999, the rate for people in that decade was 13 per 100,000 people; by 2010, it had risen almost by half, to 20 per 100,000.