Another year, another decrease in life expectancy in the US

Suicide, at 50-year peak, pushes down US life expectancy

Another year, another decrease in life expectancy in the US

The number of children with no health insurance coverage in the USA rose previous year, reversing more than a decade of steady improvement, Georgetown's Center for Children and Families said in a report released Thursday.

"Life expectancy gives us a snapshot of the nation's overall health and these sobering statistics are a wakeup call that we are losing too many Americans, too early and too often, to conditions that are preventable", Dr. Robert Redfield, CDC director, said in a statement Thursday.

Officials attributed the decrease to the highest annual increase in suicides in almost a decade, a rise in opiod overdose deaths and diseases like diabetes, pneumonia and influenza. Those small-seeming numbers also translate to meaningful real-world figures: there were 69,255 additional deaths in 2017 compared to 2016.

The decline is likely due in part to the continuing rise in drug overdose deaths, the CDC said.

Drug overdoses alone took 70,237 lives in 2017, the highest number ever recorded for a single year.

The drop was largely driven by deaths from drug overdoses and suicides, which have increased steadily over the past few years. The data also show that the increased deaths correspond strongly with the use of synthetic opioids known as fentanyls.

Death rates increased in 2017 - especially among people aged 25 to 44, according to the CDC. But it's deaths in younger age groups - particularly middle-aged people - that have had the largest impact on calculations of life expectancy, experts said.

The suicide death rate last year was the highest it's been in at least 50 years, according to USA government records.

The number one cause of death in the United States, heart disease, levelled off. Improvements in prevention and treatment of the condition usually offset increases in other leading causes of death.

Heart disease and cancer were still the leading causes of death by a wide margin, killing more than 152 people out of every 100,000 in 2017-although deaths from cancer decreased significantly. Women between the ages of 45 and 64 experienced the highest rates in both 1999 (6 suicides per 100,000) and 2017 (nearly 10 suicides per 100,000). The rate increased from about 6 overdose deaths per 100,000 people in 1999 to almost 22 per 100,000 in 2017. The CDC did not release state rates for suicides.

Increases have been prominent among the female population despite the fact that most people who die by suicide are still male.

In 1999, the suicide rate for the most rural counties was about 13 per 100,000, compared with almost 10 per 100,000 in the most urban counties. However, this 2017 urban suicide rate is 16 percent higher than in 1999 (about 10 per 100,000), while the 2017 suicide rate for the most rural counties is 53 percent higher than in 1999 (about 13 per 100,000), the report indicates. Life expectancy for women in 2017 remained unchanged from 2016, at 81.1 years.

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