The CDC reported that the life expectancy of younger Americans is down due to suicide and opioid abuse.
Over 2.8 million U.S. deaths occurred in 2017, or nearly 70,000 more than, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said on Thursday. This data was the most reported number of deaths in a single year since the government began tracking this information more than a century ago.
Experts said that the deaths in younger age groups, mainly middle-aged adults, have the largest influence on the overall life expectancy.
“These sobering statistics are a wake-up call that we are losing too many Americans, too early and too often, to conditions that are preventable,” said Dr. Robert Redfield, the CDC’s director, in a released statement.
The reports noted that heart disease, cancer, unintentional injuries, chronic lower respiratory diseases, and stroke remained the leading causes of U.S. deaths. Since 2008, suicide has ranked 10 and has grown at a disturbing rate.
The suicide death rate has been the highest its been in 50 years, according to U.S. government records. Over 47,000 suicides occurred in 2017, up from a little under 45,000 the year before.
The rate of drug overdose deaths involving synthetic opioids other than methadone (drugs such as fentanyl, fentanyl analogs and tramadol) increased by 45 percent in 2017 from the previous year. The rates of drug overdose deaths involving heroin, natural and semi-synthetic opioids, and methadone were unchanged from 2016.
“No area of the United States is exempt from this epidemic – we all know a friend, family member or loved one devastated by opioids,” said CDC Principal Deputy Director Anne Schuchat.
There is a general decline in overall life expectancy, but for decades, U.S. life expectancy was increasing until 2015, leveled in 2016, and a decline in 2017. Since World War I, when the 1910 flu pandemic occurred killing over 1 million people, has life expectancy been this low.