Friday, November 30, 2018

Another Decline in Life Expectancy

Life expectancy at birth fell to 78.6 years in 2017, according to the National Center for Health Statistics, down from 78.7 years in 2016. Life expectancy also fell in 2015, held steady in 2016 according to revised numbers, then fell again in 2017. "The nation is in the longest period of a generally declining life expectancy since the late 1910s," reports the New York Times about the trend. Behind the decline are rising death rates for 7 of the 10 leading causes of death including unintentional injuries and suicide.

Unintentional injuries: Most drug overdose deaths are included in the "unintentional injuries" cause of death. The number of drug overdose deaths climbed to 70,237 in 2017, up from 63,632 in 2016. The death rate from drug overdoses was 21.7 per 100,000 population in 2017, up from 12.3 in 2010 and 6.2 in 2000.

Suicide: Suicides are also on the rise. Between 1999 and 2017 the suicide rate increased 33 percent, climbing from 10.5 to 14.0 deaths per 100,000 population. Suicide rates are much higher for men than for women. They are much higher in rural than in urban counties, and the gap is growing. The suicide rate in the most rural counties was 36 percent greater than the rate in the most urban counties in 1999. The rural rate was 80 percent higher in 2017.

The decline in life expectancy in 2017 was limited to males and people under age 65. "People are increasingly hopeless," said George Washington University disease prevention expert Dr. William Dietz in the New York Times, "and that leads to drug use, it leads potentially to suicide."

Source: National Center for Health Statistics, Mortality in the United States, 2017 and Drug Overdose Deaths in the United States, 1999–2017 and Suicide Mortality in the United States, 1999–2017

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