Deaths From Alcohol, Drugs, Suicide Highest Since Record-Taking Began in U.S.

Suicides alone rose by 4% — double the average annual pace over the previous decade.

The U.S. experienced its highest-ever total number of deaths from alcohol, drugs and suicide in 2017 since federal data collection started in 1999, figures analyzed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and two public health nonprofits showed.

The rates of deaths related to those three causes rose from 43.9 to 46.6 deaths per 100,000 people in 2017, a 6% increase, the Trust for America’s Health and the Well Being Trust reported Tuesday.

The increase was greater than the 4% average annual increase since 1999, according to USA Today.

Suicides, specifically, rose by 4% alone — double the average annual pace over the previous decade.

Chief strategy officer of the Well Being Trust, psychologist Benjamin Miller, told USA Today that broader efforts need to be made to understand the underlying causes of alcohol and drug use and suicide.

“It’s almost a joke how simple we’re trying to make these issues,” he said. “We’re not changing direction and it’s getting worse.”

Approaches proposed by both the Trust for America’s Health and the Well Being Trust include:

Greater funding and support for programs that reduce risk factors — like having incarcerated parents or experiencing domestic violence — and promote resilience in children, families and communities.

Policies that limit people’s access to the means of suicide, such as the safe storage of medications and firearms, and responsible opioid prescribing practices.

And better resources for programs that reduce the risk of addiction and overdose, especially in areas and among people most affected, and equal access to these services.

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