U.S. Life Expectancy Continues to Decline

The average life expectancy in the United States fell in 2017 according to new data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).  2017 marks the 3rd year in a row life expectancy has remained flat or gone down.  Life expectancy peaked in 2014 at 78.9 years.  Prior to 2014, life expectancy had been increasing over the course of the past 100 years. What has caused the decline?  Drug overdoses and suicide.

Deaths of Despair

“The latest CDC data show that the U.S. life expectancy has declined over the past few years. Tragically, this troubling trend is largely driven by deaths from drug overdose and suicide,” CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield said in a statement. “These sobering statistics are a wakeup call that we are losing too many Americans, too early and too often, to conditions that are preventable.

The worst states for drug overdose deaths in 2017: West Virginia (57.8 per 100,000 people), Ohio (46.3), and Pennsylvania (44.3).  Indiana was among the states with drug overdose death rates statistically higher than the rest of the United States.

The  CDC reports the U.S. suicide rate has continued to increase, from 10.5 suicides per 100,000 population in 1999 to 14.0 in 2017.  The most rural U.S. counties experienced a suicide rate nearly two times higher than those in the most urban counties, according to the report.

Since 2008, suicide has ranked as the 10th leading cause of death for all ages in the United States. In 2016, suicide became the second leading cause of death for ages 10–34 and the fourth leading cause for ages 35–54.

Drug Overdose and Suicide are Preventable

While there are no quick-fixes, drug overdose and suicide are preventable.

Public health and drug policy experts say there are solutions to the crisis, including:

  1. Preventing new generations of opioid misuse.
  2. Making addiction treatment and access easy
  3. Harm reduction
  4. Address the problems that lead to addiction and suicide (root causes)
  5. Dedicate the resources to do the above

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If you or someone you know is experiencing signs of distress, please reach out to a mental health professional or get confidential, free support and text LOOKUP to 494949 or chat online here.

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