Is the baby boomer generation truly the “happy generation”?

Guest Post: 

From The Social Report 2016 – Te pūrongo oranga tangata

Figure H3.2 – Suicide mortality, numbers and age-standardised rates, by sex, 1972–2012

These graphs are from a report published by the Ministry of Social Development.

The first graph shows that suicide rates peaked around 2000. In both relative (suicides per 100 000 people) and absolute terms, the total number of suicides are lower than 2000.

Figure H3.3 – Age-specific suicide mortality rates, by age group, 1972–2012

Figure H3.3 – Age-specific suicide mortality rates, by age group, 1972–2012

The second graph is stunning.

In 1972 it was elderly who were committing suicide in great numbers while relatively few young people did. Today that relationship has inverted entirely.


I can only surmise:

In 1972 the over 65 year olds were survivors of at least one Great War. They were a generation who were forced to retire at 60 and perhaps reflecting on their youth and the atrocities they witnessed and were part of.

In 1972 young [people were free. They could roam the streets –and did- getting sun and air. The economy was still reasonably strong before the trials of England joining the EEC and the oil crisis. Most kids had two parents and one tended to be a stay at home Mum.

Today few over 65 people are committing suicide. Is the baby boomer generation truly the “happy generation”?

What made them so happy?

And why is being a young person so tough today? Or are today’s young people simply not as resilient as their elders? In which case have the elder generations let their mokopuna down?

I would be interested in readers thoughts.

Ron Scott


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