USA life expectancy drops, overdoses climb - govt report

Chart showing comparing life expectancy at birth in the US 2014-2017

U.S. Life Expectancy Dropped for the Third Year in a Row. Drugs and Suicide Are Partly to Blame

Life expectancy in the United States dropped again a year ago as more Americans are dying younger from drug overdoses and suicide - data the Centers for Disease Control called a "wakeup call".

Redfield tied the drop in overall life expectancy, which averaged 78.6 years in 2017, a decrease of 0.1 from the year before, to the rise in deaths from overdose and suicide.

As of 2017, the average life span is 78.6.

In an effort to visualize some of these grim statistics on a local level, spatial analytics company Esri sourced county-by-county health rankings for age-adusted mortality rates and put them into an interactive map.

While numerous factors contribute to the spike in suicide rates, a recent study from the University of MI showed that the Netflix series "13 Reasons Why", which focuses on teen suicide, increases the risk of suicide among teens.

While the average suicide rate in the USA has been steadily increasing for the past 20 years, the CDC's data also shows huge geographic disparities in suicide rates, with rural parts of the USA showing double the rate of urban areas. At the same time, there are plenty of areas where the maps don't align. The age-adjusted death rate has gone up 16% per year since 2014.

Regardless of what's driving the trend, it feels especially dire in a country as rich as this one.

"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", he said in a statement released Thursday.

Only cancer death rates decreased by 2.1%, while the rates for most other causes increased.

The top three causes of death in the US are heart disease, cancer, and accidents. The rate of deaths involving synthetic opioids other than methadone (this includes fentanyl and tramadol) increased 45 percent between 2016 and 2017. Almost 70,240 Americans died of drug overdoses last year, compared to about 63,630 during the previous year. Deaths from heroin and prescription drugs, meanwhile, stayed flat. In 2017, there were more than 70,000 overdose deaths in the country, up from 2016.

The most striking trend in suicide deaths is their geographic distribution. The 2017-2018 flu season was one of the worst in more than a decade, and some of the deaths from early in that season appeared in the new death dates.

However, black females experienced a 0.8 percent decreasing death rate in 2017 over the previous year, meaning they lived a bit longer, while the rate increased by 0.6 percent for white males and by 0.9 percent for white females. Though constant, the rate has increased over time from about 10 suicides per 100,000 in 1999 to 14 per 100,000 in 2017.

The report, called "Suicide Mortality in the United States, 1999-2017", was based on government records. The rate has been going up by approximately 71 percent per year since 2013.

The figure was 6,600 higher than in the previous 12 months. More remote areas have seen rates nearly twice as high as in urban areas.

Most notable is the widening gap between urban and rural Americans.

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