Since 1999, suicide rates among middle-aged Americans have risen substantially, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), while rates for those aged 10 to 34 and 65 or older have remained relatively static.

Today's CDC journal Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report documents a significant elevation in the number of annual suicides. Rates among U.S. adults aged 35 to 64 increased 28 percent from 13.7 suicides per 100,000 people in 1999 to 17.6 per 100,000 in 2010.

"The findings in this report suggest it is important for suicide prevention strategies to address the types of stressors that middle-aged Americans might be facing and that can contribute to suicide risk," said Linda C. Degutis, M.S.N., director of CDC's National Center for Injury Prevention and Control.

Exactly what stressors do middle-aged Americans face?

Look no further than the economy, says Pew Research Center, which conducted a nationwide survey of adults, ages 40 to 59, that concluded in early December of last year. Tasked with supporting elderly parents and dependent children at once, mid-life adults face mounting burdens and responsibilities, suggest the authors of "The Sandwich Generation: Rising Financial Burdens for Middle-Aged Americans."

Nearly half (47 percent) of adults in their 40s and 50s have a parent 65-years-of-age or older and are either raising a young child or financially supporting a grown child (age 18 or older) at the same time. And about one in seven of these same mid-life adults (15 percent) provides financial support to both an aging parent and a child at once. Meanwhile, costs associated with caring for multiple generations mount.

Yet the increasing financial pressure is not exerted by aging parents so much as grown yet still dependent children. Results show roughly half (48 percent) of the mid-life adults surveyed have provided some financial support to at least one grown child in the past year, with 27 percent providing primary support. In comparison to a similar Pew survey conducted in 2005, these numbers show a dramatic increase from the 20 percent who provided primary support and the 22 percent who provided some support in that earlier year.

"One likely explanation for the increase in the prevalence of parents providing financial assistance to grown children is that the Great Recession and sluggish recovery have taken a disproportionate toll on young adults," state the authors.

Overall, mortality rates as documented by the CDC reflect the fault lines in contemporary American society. CDC calculations attribute 38,364 deaths to suicide in 2010, a number that exceeds deaths from motor vehicle crashes (33,687) yet remains significantly lower than deaths from influenza and pneumonia (50,097), which inordinately fells both the very young and the very old.

Further parsing the statistics, people aged 55 to 59 years showed a slightly greater rate of suicide (49 percent) than those aged 50 to 54 years (48 percent). Middle-aged men were most likely to choose firearms and hanging/suffocation while women were more inclined toward poisoning and firearms. And among ethnic groups, the greatest increases in suicide rates were among American Indian and Alaska Natives (65 percent) and white non-Hispanics (40 percent).

"This report highlights the need to expand our knowledge of risk factors so we can build on prevention programs that prevent suicide," said CDC director Tom Frieden, M.D., M.P.H.

A general outline of suicide prevention strategies would involve not only amplifying social support and community connectedness, but also improving access to mental health services while reducing the stigma and barriers associated with such help. CDC also recommends programs to help those at increased risk, including those struggling with financial challenges, job loss, intimate partner problems or violence, stress of caregiving, substance abuse, and serious or chronic health problems.

Within global trends, the U.S. suicide rates are conspicuous, if only slightly. The figure for middle-aged suicide in the U.S. is slightly higher than the overall figures quoted by the World Health Organization (WHO); almost one million people die from suicide every year, with a worldwide mortality rate of 16 per 100,000, or one death every 40 seconds. A major risk factor for suicide in Europe and North America can be attributed to mental disorders (particularly depression and alcohol use disorders), according to WHO.

Perhaps by design, perhaps not, WHO will follow the trend of statistics from the recent CDC report in establishing the theme for World Mental Health Day, which falls on October 10, as "mental health and older adults."