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Overdose, suicide raises US deaths and lower lifetimes

NEW YORK (AP) Suicide and drug overdose pushed up US deaths last year and drove a continued decline in how…


Suicide and drug overdose pushed up US deaths last year and drove a continued decline in how long Americans are expected to live.

Overall, there were over 2.8 million US deaths in 2017, or nearly 70,000 more than the year before, said disease control and prevention centers on Thursday. It was most deaths a year since the government began to count more than a century ago.

The increase partly reflects the nation’s growing and aging population. But there are deaths in younger age groups – especially middle-aged people – who have had the greatest impact on calculations of expected life expectancy, experts said.

“These sober statistics are an alarm clock that we lose to many Americans, too early and often, to conditions that can be prevented,” said Robert Redfield, CDC Director, in a statement.

The suicide rate last year was the highest as it has been for at least 50 years, according to the US government record. There were more than 47,000 suicides, rising from just under 45,000 the year before.


For decades, American life was on the rise and rose for a few months almost every year. Now it’s the opposite: It fell 201

5, stopped in 2016 and dropped again last year, said CDC.

Suicide and drugs overdose have helped to increase the American deaths last year and drove a continued decline in how long Americans are expected to live. US health officials released the latest numbers Thursday. (29 November)

The nation is during the longest period of a generally reduced lifespan since the late 1910s, when the First World War and the worst influenza pandemic in modern history were combined to kill nearly 1 million Americans. The life expectancy in 1918 was 39 years.

Apart from that, “we’ve never seen anything like this,” says Robert Anderson, who oversees CDC’s death statistics.

In the country’s 10 leading causes of death, cancer deaths only fell in 2017. At the same time there were increases in seven others – suicide, stroke, diabetes, Alzheimer’s flu / pneumonia, chronic lower respiratory diseases and accidental injuries.

An underlying factor is that the death rate of heart disease – the nation’s No. 1 killer – has ceased to fall. Year after year, the decline in cardiovascular deaths was sufficient to compensate increases in some other deaths, but no longer, said Anderson.

(CDC’s number changes sometimes. This week, CDC officials said they had revised life expectancy for 2016 after some additional data came in.)


CDC officials did not wonder what is behind the reduced life span, but Dr. William Dietz, a disease prevention expert at George Washington University, sees a sense of hopelessness.

Financial struggles, increasing income and splitting policies iron out all pallets over many Americans, he suggested. “I really believe that people are becoming more hopeless and that it leads to drug use, which potentially leads to suicide,” he said.

VoteCast, a comprehensive survey of voters conducted by The Associated Press, found voters to express pessimistic views on the future: About half of the voters nationwide said they expect America’s next generation generation to get worse than it is today. Almost a quarter said life would be better and if so many said it would be the same. VoteCast examined more than 115,000 voters nationwide as Americans cast votes in this year’s mid-term election.

Death-overdosed deaths continued to climb, exceeding 70,000 last year, in the midst of the deadliest overdose dose in US history. Death rate increased by 10 percent compared to last year, less than 21 percent jumped between 2016 and 2017.

That is not the right reason for celebration, says Dr. John Rowe, Professor of Health Policy and Aging at Columbia University.

“Maybe it will slow down, but it has not changed yet,” said Rowe. “I think it will take several years.”

Drug abuse cases account for more than a third of the inadvertent injured deaths and intentional overdoses for drugs account for about a tenth of suicide, says Dr. Holly Hedegaard, a CDC injury to the researcher.

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