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US Life Expectancy Decreases as Suicide Rates Rise

If you or someone you know struggle with suicidal thoughts or thoughts of self-harm there are resources available such as the National Suicide Prevention Hotline 1-800-273-8255 or the Trevor Project, an organization that helps LGBTQ people who have thoughts of suicide 1-866-488-7386.

A harrowing statistic by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention revealed that the total life expectancy of US residents has decreased due to the steady rise in suicide and drug related deaths, reports ABC News.

Last year, there were approximately 2.8 million deaths in the US, a number that increased by 70,000 from 2016. 2017 holds the record for most deaths per year in over a century. Many of those deaths can be attributed to the increasing aging population, but the suicide and drug-related deaths in middle-aged people are the ones driving up the death rate.

Last year's suicide death rate is the highest it has been in about fifty years, with the toll being over 47,000, a number that's up from 2016, which saw a little under 45,000 recorded suicides. Because of this, US life expectancy is on a general decline after being on a steady incline for decades.

The US has entered into the longest general decline in life expectancy since the 1910s, when the worst flu pandemic and World War I combined to create a death toll of about one million. The life expectancy in the late 1910s was only 39.

The CDC did not speculate on why life expectancy is declining, but Dr. William Dietz, a disease prevention specialist, suggested that increasing income disparity, financial struggles, and the polarizing political climate of today are the most likely contributing factors in people being driven to suicide. 

According to a wide-ranging survey conducted by the Free Press, approximately half of the participants predict that life in the United States will be worse for the next generation, a quarter said that it will be better, and around the same number said that life would remain more or less the same.

Now as a relatively young person living in the United States, I am hesitant to conjecture the state of things, as I think there are both good and bad things happening in this country so I won't assume that this country will improve, but positive change does need to happen if we want to increase our life expectancy. 

The drug overdose death statistic is especially alarming, as LGBTQ people are at high risk for drug abuse, with people who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender being more than twice as likely to abuse drugs as heterosexual people, according to DrugAbuse.gov. Intentional drug overdoses account for 10% of suicide. 

Something has to change or we'll be faced with a sad reality in the US.


h/t: ABC News, DrugAbuse.gov