Suicide risk goes beyond teen years

Growing number of middle-age women commit suicide

CORAL SPRINGS, Fla. – The shock of Kate Spade's suicide reverberated around the world.  

Many wondered how someone with such personal and professional success could take their own life but Michelle Rovere of Coral Springs understood.

"I hated myself. I didn't feel worthy of anyone's love," she said.

For a decade Rovere lived in emotional pain, falling into what she calls "the black hole of depression" in her mid-40s.

"Physically I was there, but mentally I just wasn't," Rovere said.

To the outside world, she had it all: husband, children, grandchildren and a successful career.

"That's where the self-loathing came from because looking around, yes, I did have a good life," she said.

Michelle Rovere of Coral Springs struggled with depression in her 40s.

But her internal darkness grew.

"I'd say around three or four years into it, I started to think of a plan, a way that I could end my life," she said.

While suicide is typically associated with teens, a study by British researchers found that suicide risk peaks in mid-life, particularly among women in English speaking countries.

"They really have always had a higher rate of attempts, they're unfortunately getting more efficient at it," said Dr. Charles Nemeroff, chief of psychiatry with the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine.

Mental health experts say the catalyst to commit suicide is typically severe depression, which women statistically suffer from more than men.

"It's the broken brain, and it is indeed broken," Nemeroff said.  "When someone has a stroke and they're paralyzed on the right side and they're walking with a walker, does anybody say, ‘Why can't they just walk?'"

While we're told to watch out for the signs of suicide, which can include change in appetite, irritability, insomnia, and social isolation, these warnings aren't always evident.

"No one would have known, no one," Rovere said.

With the help of therapy and medication, Rovere is now making her way out of the darkness but said the underlying mood disorder that drove her suicidal thoughts will never go away.

"I'm recovering. I'm always recovering. I'll never be cured," she said.

About the Authors:

Veteran journalist Kathleen Corso is the special projects producer for Local 10 News.