Published: Fri, November 30, 2018
Health Care | By Cedric Leonard

Life expectancy in the US continues to fall

Life expectancy in the US continues to fall

At the same time, suicide rates have also steadily increased, according to the CDC, making it the 10th leading cause of death in the US - and the second most common cause of death for people ages 10 to 34.

-West Virginia was once again the state with the highest rate of drug overdose deaths.

Drug overdoses have also caused the deaths of more younger people.

West Virginia saw the highest overdose death rate in 2017 at 58 per 100,000 people; Ohio, Pennsylvania and the U.S. capital also topped the list. "Do we say this is the new normal?" The uptick isn't much - a rise to 5 percent of children without insurance, or about 276,000 more uninsured children, from 4.7 percent in 2016 - but "with an improving economy and a very low unemployment rate, the fact that our nation is going backwards on children's health coverage is very troubling", said Joan Alker, the director of the center and lead author of the report. In 2017, that rate had increased by 16 percent, to 11.1 deaths per 100,000. Life expectancy for women in 2017 remained unchanged from 2016, at 81.1 years.

"There are some data to suggest that that's led to a sense of hopelessness, which in turn could lead to an increase in rates of suicide and certainly addictive behaviors". There were 38 in 2017, increasing to 44 so far in 2018.

Overall, the statistics show a "downward trend in life expectancy since 2014", a time period over which Americans have lost 0.3 years of life, said Robert Anderson, chief of the mortality statistics branch at the NCHS.

As large as it was, that 47 percent increase was smaller than the jump between 2015 and 2016, when the number of deaths from fentanyl and its analogues more than doubled.

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Others noted programs that may also have helped: The overdose antidote naloxone has been made more widely available in many places; Rhode Island has made efforts to educate substance abusers as they leave jail, a time when they are particularly vulnerable to overdose; and Vermont and other states have bolstered treatment programs. "Of late, it's fentanyl", said Steve Jennings, Jefferson County Public Health planner.

"We're seeing the drop in life expectancy not because we're hitting a cap [for lifespans of] people in their 80s".

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.

The CDC issues its health statistics report each December. By comparison, the rate for women has increased from four per 100,000 to 14.

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). "There are many different circumstances and factors that contribute to suicide".

Overall, suicides increased by a third between 1999 and 2017, the report showed.

"Higher suicide rates in rural areas are due to almost 60 percent of rural homes having a gun versus less than half of homes in urban areas", Humphreys wrote in an email. In 1999, the most urban counties in the United States had a suicide rate of 9.6 deaths per 100,000 people.

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