Life expectancy in the United States is dropping, according a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The agency says suicides and drug overdoses are driving the three-year trend.
"It's really the first time we've seen this multi-year drop" in decades, WebMD quoted Renee Gindi, chief of the Analytic Studies Branch of the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS), part of the CDC.
Overall, more than 2.8 million people died in the US last year, the agency reports. That's nearly 70,000 more than in 2016 and the most deaths in a single year since the government started counting more than 100 years ago.
Many deaths can be attributed to our country's aging population. However, the death rate among younger and middle-aged people is also up.
"They were in the 25 to 54 age group, predominantly," noted John Rowe, a professor of health policy and aging at Columbia University. "This is very interesting because one does not ordinarily think about increases in mortality rate in that age group."
A big factor behind the disturbing trend is the growing number of drug overdoses.
"On a medical level, what we're seeing is with the overdoses; we're talking about one main category of drug, and they're called opioids," CBN News Medical Reporter Lorie Johnson explained. "People are dying from three main types – the prescription drugs, heroin and and now fentanyl."
Another reason for the decline in life expectancy among the young is suicide, with the rate in 2017 being the highest in at least 50 years.
"We need to ensure that suicide prevention is ... tackled on the same scale and with the same vigor that we address other public health issues in this country," Bob Turner of the National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention told USA Today.
He warned that if we don't, "the number of people dying by suicide or struggling with suicidal thoughts will continue to rise."