As Gun Violence Grows, US Life Expectancy Drops

Drug overdoses claimed 70,237 lives in 2017 while suicides numbered more than 47,000 over the same period

The average life span in the United States in 2017 dropped to "78.6 years, a decrease of 0.1 year from 2016", according to the report by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) National Center for Health Statistics.

More than 70,000 died from drug overdoses in the U.S.in 2017, a ten percent increase from the year before.

Notably, that number reflects the most overdose-related deaths the US has ever experience in a single year. In 2017, the average life expectancy was 78.1.

"Our study using cumulative data from 2000 to 2016 demonstrates a total firearm life expectancy loss of 905.2 days, which is nine times greater than observed in 2000, indicating increasing life expectancy loss by year", they write.

"The increase partly reflects the nation's growing and aging population".

As Kathryn McHugh of Harvard Medical School tells NPR's Richard Harris, "We're seeing the drop in life expectancy not because we're hitting a cap [for lifespans of] people in their 80s, [but] because people are dying in their 20s [and] 30s". It's the tenth leading cause of death in the U.S. And for those aged 10 to 34, it's the second most common cause of death. Deaths by these drugs jumped an incredible 45 percent between 2016 and 2017. Seven, including suicide and unintentional injuries, experienced increases. Federal funding, as well as closer monitoring of opioid prescriptions and higher availability of overdose-reversing drugs, may be helping the problem, but the number of people who die from overdoses is still high.

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Unintentional deaths coming from overdoses, and suicides. To date, the overdose epidemic has wrought the most devastation in Northeast, Midwest and mid-Atlantic states.

The decline is not the cause of some new widespread disease, rather the cause of something preventable. Still, the rising prevalence of fentanyl, which is often mixed with heroin or falsely marketed as heroin, means the nation's drug crisis is far from over.

In terms of deaths from suicide, Bernstein writes that there is a huge disparity between urban and rural Americans. Suicide rates are up 33 percent since 1999.

"Overall, there were more than 2.8 million USA deaths in 2017, or almost 70,000 more than the previous year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Thursday". "Having easily available lethal means is a big risk factor for suicide".

McHugh echoes Dietz, concluding, "There's a tremendous amount of overlap between the two that isn't talked about almost enough". "The National Institute on Drug Abuse and the Surgeon General both highlight naloxone access as a key to preventing overdose death, and provide information on where to get the drug and receive training on how to administer it to someone in distress".

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