According to the CDC, life expectancy in the United States is falling, largely because of drug overdose and suicides


NEW YORK – Suicides and drug overdoses increased the number of deaths in the United States last year and resulted in a steady decline in the expected lives of Americans.

In total, there were more than 2.8 million deaths in the United States in 2017, nearly 70,000 more than last year, said Thursday the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This is the largest number of deaths in a year since the government began counting more than a century ago.

This increase partly reflects the growth and aging of the country's population. But it is deaths among younger age groups – especially middle-aged people – that have had the biggest impact on life expectancy calculations, experts said.

"These sobering statistics are an alarm bell: we are losing too many Americans, too early and too often, to the benefit of conditions that could be avoided," said Dr. Robert Redfield, CDC director. in a statement.

the the suicide death rate last year was the highest it's been at least 50 years, according to US government records. There were more than 47,000 suicides, compared to just under 45,000 the year before.

A general decline

For decades, life expectancy in the United States was on the rise, increasing by a few months almost every year. Now, the trend is reversed: it dropped in 2015, remained stable in 2016 and fell again last year, said the CDC.

The life expectancy of the nation is usually the longest since the late 1910s, when World War I and the worst influenza pandemic in modern history have killed nearly a million people. # 39; Americans. The life expectancy in 1918 was 39 years old.

Apart from that, "we have never seen anything like it," said Robert Anderson, who oversees the CDC's death statistics.

Of the top 10 leading causes of death in the country, only the cancer death rate decreased in 2017. Seven more experienced an increase – suicide, stroke, diabetes, Alzheimer's, influenza / pneumonia, chronic lower respiratory diseases and non-fatal injuries. intentional.

An underlying factor is that the mortality rate for heart disease – the nation's first killer – stopped falling. In past years, the decline in the number of deaths from heart disease was enough to offset the rise in some other types of deaths, but not longer, Anderson said.

(CDC figures change sometimes.) This week, CDC officials said they reviewed their estimate of life expectancy for 2016 after receiving additional data.)

What's driving him?

CDC officials have not speculated on the delay in life expectancy, but Dr. William Dietz, a specialist in disease prevention at George Washington University, sees a sense of hopelessness.

Financial struggles, a growing income gap and divisive politics are all throwing a veil over many Americans, he suggested. "I really believe that people are more and more desperate and that leads to drug use, potentially suicide," he said.

The number of drug overdose deaths has also continued to increase, surpassing 70,000 last year, at the heart of the most lethal drug overdose epidemic in the history of the United States. . The death rate increased by 10% over the previous year, less than the 21% jump observed between 2016 and 2017.

This is not a reason to celebrate, said Dr. John Rowe, professor of health and aging policy at Columbia University.

"Maybe it's starting to slow down, but it's not back yet," Rowe said. "I think it will take several years."

Accidental drug overdoses account for more than one-third of unintentional injury deaths, and intentional drug overdoses make up about one-tenth of suicides, said Dr. Holly Hedegaard, CDC's Injury Researcher.

Other findings

The CDC figures are based primarily on a review of death certificates for 2017. Life expectancy is based on current trends in mortality and other factors.

The agency also said:

  • A baby born last year in the United States should live on average 78 years and 7 months. An American born in 2015 or 2016 had to live about a month longer, and another born in 2014 about two months longer than that.
  • The suicide rate was 14 deaths per 100,000 people. This is the highest since at least 1975.
  • The percentage of suicides due to drug overdose has decreased slightly.
  • Deaths due to influenza and pneumonia increased by about 6%. The 2017-2018 influenza season was one of the worst in more than a decade and some of the deaths that occurred earlier this season appeared in the new dates of death.
  • West Virginia has returned to being the state with the highest rate of drug overdose deaths. The CDC has not released state rates for suicides.
  • Mortality rates for heroin, methadone and prescription opioid analgesics were stable. But fentanyl, a powerful painkiller, and his close opioid cousins ​​continued to die in 2017.

The CDC did not talk about gun death in 2017 in reports released Thursday. However, previous reports from the CDC noted an increase in suicide rates by firearm and suffocation or hanging.

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