Published: Fri, November 30, 2018
Medicine | By Brett Sutton

United States life expectancy drops, overdoses climb - govt report

United States life expectancy drops, overdoses climb - govt report

Increases have been prominent among the female population despite the fact that most people who die by suicide are still male. Increases in deaths from unintentional injuries - a category that includes accidental drug overdose - played the biggest role in the decline in life expectancy in 2017, the report said.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released its latest data on mortality rates this morning, and the news is not good.

"Life expectancy gives us a snapshot of the Nation's overall health and these sobering statistics are a wake-up call that we are losing too many Americans, too early and too often, to conditions that are preventable", CDC Director Robert Redfield said in a statement. That decline may be modest, but it marks the third year in a row that life expectancy at birth has fallen - a noteworthy phenomenon, since the previous multiyear drop recorded by the NCHS was in the early 1960s. That period included World War I and a flu pandemic that killed 675,000 people in the United States. The UK's life expectancy is around 80 years.

Recently that rise has been partly driven by the opioid epidemic and a sharp uptick in the number of deaths involving synthetic opioids, such as fentanyl - a stunning 45 percent leap in the span of a single year, between 2016 and 2017.

Aside from that, "we've never really seen anything like this", said Robert Anderson, who oversees CDC death statistics.

The rate of suicides has crept up from 10 per 100,000 people in 1999 to 14 past year. When those death rates were broken down by ethnicity and sex, white people-both men and women-had a statistically significant increase in death rate, although their absolute rates were still lower than those of black men and women. "I really do believe that people are increasingly hopeless, and that that leads to drug use, it leads...to suicide", he said. The rate of overdose deaths increased by 9.6% between 2016 and 2017.

Deaths by suicide have also spiked.

CDC & FDA
CDC & FDA

The authors concluded that while further research is needed to assess the dangers of the show, "the findings suggest a particular vulnerability to the show's themes among youths at risk of suicide", and that steps are needed to be taken to ameliorate those problems.

Suicides and drug overdoses were two reasons for an increase in the number of deaths in the United States previous year. Cancer deaths declined by 2.1 percent in 2017, CNN noted. A baby born in the United States, in 2017, is now expected to live 78 years and seven months. Nebraska, by contrast, had just 8.1 drug overdose deaths per 100,000 residents.

-Death rates for heroin, methadone and prescription opioid painkillers were flat.

As the United States grapples with an opioid crisis, overdoses claim more and more lives, the CDC report found. The suicide rate has increased by a third since 1999, according to the CDC stats, to 14 for every 100,000 people a year ago.

"So the frustration that many of us feel is that there are things that could save many lives", he said, "and we are failing to make those services available".

Now, the reports released by the CDC did not offer only bad news. "There are many different circumstances and factors that contribute to suicide".

"Higher suicide rates in rural areas are due to almost 60 percent of rural homes having a gun versus less than half of homes in urban areas", Humphreys wrote in an email.


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