US life expectancy drops again as opioid deaths and suicide rates rise

Health, Fitness & Food

Life expectancy for Americans dropped once again in 2017, as the rates of fatal opioid overdoses and suicides continued to climb.

Melania Trump called the opioid epidemic the “worst drug crisis in American history” in a speech Wednesday. Advocacy about the crisis and its effects on children are a part of her “Be Best” campaign, which focuses on childhood well-being.

“The pattern of drugs involved in overdose deaths has changed in recent years,” the NCHS report said, noting that the rates of overdose deaths involving heroin, methadone, and natural and semisynthetic opiates — oxycodone, for example — were unchanged from 2016 to 2017.

The majority of drug overdose deaths were unintentional, according to the NCHS report. Seven percent of those deaths were determined to be suicides. (The data are compiled using information from death certificates, which list an official cause of death.)

Suicides overall were up by 3.7 percent in 2017. Since 1999, the national suicide rate has increased by 33 percent. The country’s most rural counties had suicide rates almost twice as high as those for the most urban counties.

The increase in suicides did not affect its spot as the 10th leading cause of death in the United States for the 10th year in a row, but the NCHS report did list it as another reason for the decline in life expectancy.

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