Published: Thu, November 29, 2018
Health Care | By Cedric Leonard

US life expectancy drops again, overdoses climb

US life expectancy drops again, overdoses climb

Life expectancy for the average person in the US dropped slightly in 2017, marking the second time in recent years that USA life expectancy has fallen, according to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Drug overdose deaths rose by almost 10 per cent past year, claiming more than 70,000 lives, while the suicide rate continued to increase, particularly in rural areas where it was almost twice that experienced in U.S. cities, according to official figures released today.

As a result, the average life span in America dropped to "78.6 years, a decrease of 0.1 year from 2016", said the report, which contains the first public release of final mortality data for 2017.

Death rates for 2016 and 2017, by ethnicity and sex; drug overdose; and suicide rates for women and men. Drug overdoses account for slightly less than half of the deaths in this category.

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

Suicides are also on the rise, and men are again more likely to be affected. All together, the USA death rate rose by 0.4% from 2016 to 2017, going from 728.8 deaths per 100,000 people to 731.9.

Suicides and drug overdoses pushed up USA deaths previous year, and drove a continuing decline in how long Americans are expected to live.

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Separately, suicide rates have increased by about 2 percent per year between 2006 and 2017, according to the CDC's data. 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. Yet a second CDC report revealed that the rate of drug overdoses jumped 9.6 percent between 2016 and 2017, totaling 70,237 deaths previous year. In 2016, suicide became the second leading cause of death for people aged 10-34. 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).

Increases have been prominent among the female population despite the fact that most people who die by suicide are still male. The rate increased from about 6 overdose deaths per 100,000 people in 1999 to almost 22 per 100,000 in 2017.

Of the nation's 10 leading causes of death, only the death rate for cancer fell past year. Though constant, the rate has increased over time from about 10 suicides per 100,000 in 1999 to 14 per 100,000 in 2017.

Among females, the rate increased 53 percent from 4 suicides per 100,000 in 1999 to almost 6 per 100,000 in 2017.

In 2017, the suicide rate for the most rural counties (20 per 100,000) outpaced that in the most urban counties (about 11 per 100,000).

"We must all work together to reverse this trend and help ensure that all Americans live longer and healthier", Redfield said in his statement, of the decline in life expectancy.

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