Middle-aged white women—especially in rural areas—continue to die at a much faster rate than many other groups.
The Washington Post has published several in-depth investigations into the phenomenon. Much of the high death rate is attributable to high suicide rates among white women aged 45 to 54 who work blue-collar jobs. And that high suicide rate is, in turn, being blamed on an increase in psychiatric drug prescriptions. At the turn of this century, seven white women in that age group committed suicide out of every 100,000. By 2014, that figure had almost doubled. During the same period, psychiatric drug prescriptions increased 117 percent.
Colorado ranks fourth nationally for suicide rates among middle-aged white women. There, as elsewhere, the problem is mostly a rural one. These women often share similar traits: Most work physically demanding jobs, suffer from chronic pain, and struggle with mental-health issues that are addressed through psychiatric medications.