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Suicide Rates Increasing Among Middle-Aged Women

Boston (CBS) -- Kate Spade, who was found dead in her Manhattan apartment Tuesday in an apparent suicide, may have been suffering from bipolar disorder according to her sister.

The designer's sister told CBS News that Spade, known for her sleek handbags and bright colors, considered seeking treatment several times but was worried about how it would affect her upbeat brand.

Though a source close to the family told People Magazine that the designer and her sister were estranged and the sister did not know what was going on in Spade's life.

Police do believe Spade may have been struggling with marital and financial problems.

Suicide rates, in general, have been on the rise in recent years, but especially among women between the ages of 45 and 64. In fact, suicide is one of the top ten leading causes of death among middle aged women.

Suicide risk

The demographics of the methods used are also changing. While women are historically more likely to rely on poisoning, they are increasingly turning to suffocation, usually by hanging.

But why are more middle aged women taking their own lives? Interestingly, women are more vulnerable to committing suicide just before puberty and during menopause when their sexual identities are changing. Women also suffer from depression almost twice as often as men. While many take antidepressants, some don't consistently see a mental health specialist.

Another potential factor is that women are under increasing pressure, from their jobs and from their families, and can be left feeling disappointed, "stuck" or even ashamed. Many women can't or don't verbalize their inner turmoil and instead suffer in silence.

Here are warning signs that someone might be at risk of suicide: a history of depression or other mental illness, physical illness, job loss or financial stress, relationship troubles, feeling alone, becoming more withdrawn, alcohol or drug abuse, access to a firearm, and having a suicide plan.

If you or someone you know may be contemplating suicide, you can call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

The National Suicide Prevention Line provides free and confidential support for people in distress. Call them at 1-800-273-8255 or visit their website to chat.

Local Suicide Support:
Samaritans 24-hour Help Line: 877-870-HOPE (4673)
Local (Talk with someone anonymously.)
Samaritans Boston (24-hour Help Line): 617-247-0220
Samaritans Framingham (24-hour Help Line): 508-875-4500
Samaritans of Merrimack Valley: 866-912-4673

Samariteens (teen line): 800-252-TEEN (8336) (3 pm-9 pm weekdays, 9 am-9 pm weekends)
Samaritans of Merrimack Valley Teen Helpline: 978-688-TEEN (8336) (6 pm-9 pm weekdays, 3 pm-9 pm weekends)
Samaritans online teen support (IM Hear_): Massachusetts high school students get support through instant messaging, available on Monday through Thursday nights from 6 pm to 9 pm EST at

Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Questioning Youth Support:
Fenway Community Health Center: 800-399-7337
The Trevor Project Lifeline: 866-488-7386
Boston Area Rape Crisis Center: 800-841-8371


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