Sui­cide rate in US at its high­est level, says study

The Gulf Today - - AMERICAS -

WASH­ING­TON: The sui­cide rate in the US is at its high­est point in at least 50 years, lead­ing to a de­cline in life ex­pectancy, new re­search has found.

There were more than 47,000 sui­cides last year, up from a lit­tle un­der 45,000 the year be­fore, ac­cord­ing to US gov­ern­ment records.

Drug over­dose deaths also con­tin­ued to climb, sur­pass­ing 70,000 last year, in the midst of the dead­li­est drug over­dose epi­demic in US his­tory.

Over­all, there were more than 2.8 mil­lion US deaths in 2017, or nearly 70,000 more than the pre­vi­ous year, which was the most deaths in a sin­gle year since the gov­ern­ment be­gan count­ing more than a cen­tury ago, the Cen­ters for Dis­ease Con­trol and Pre­ven­tion (CDC) said.

The in­crease partly relects the na­tion’s grow­ing and ag­ing pop­u­la­tion 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.

For decades, US life ex­pectancy has been in­creas­ing, ris­ing a few months nearly ev­ery year.

Now it’s trending the other way: it fell in 2015, stayed level in 2016, and de­clined again last year, the CDC said.

“These sober­ing sta­tis­tics are a wake-up call that we are los­ing too many Amer­i­cans, too early and too of­ten, to con­di­tions that are pre­ventable,” Dr Robert Redield, the CDC’S di­rec­tor, said in a state­ment.

The na­tion is in the long­est pe­riod of a gen­er­ally de­clin­ing life ex­pectancy since the late 1910s, when World War I and the worst lu pan­demic in mod­ern his­tory com­bined to kill nearly one mil­lion Amer­i­cans.

Dr Wil­liam Di­etz, a dis­ease pre­ven­tion ex­pert at Ge­orge Wash­ing­ton Univer­sity, sees a sense of hope­less­ness. Fi­nan­cial strug­gles, a widen­ing in­come gap and di­vi­sive pol­i­tics are all cast­ing a pall over many Amer­i­cans, he sug­gested.

“I re­ally do be­lieve that peo­ple are in­creas­ingly hope­less, and that that leads to drug use, it leads po­ten­tially to sui­cide,” he said.

The death rate from drug over­doses rose 10 per cent from the pre­vi­ous year, smaller than the 21 per cent jump seen be­tween 2016 and 2017.

Dr John Rowe, a pro­fes­sor of health pol­icy and ag­ing at Columbia Univer­sity said: “Maybe it’s start­ing to slow down, but it has not turned around yet. I think it will take sev­eral years.”

Ac­ci­den­tal drug over­doses ac­count for more than a third of the un­in­ten­tional in­jury deaths, and in­ten­tional drug over­doses ac­count for about a 10th of the sui­cides.

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