Suicides, Drug Overdoses Lead to Drop in U.S. Life Expectancy

The CDC director called the statistics a "wakeup call" for the nation.

Life expectancy
Life expectancy rates for Americans dropped in 2017. (Artur Widak/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
NurPhoto via Getty Images

Overall life expectancy in the U.S. took a hit between 2016 and 2017 due to an increased number of deaths attributed to drug overdoses and suicides, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Thursday.

In 2017, overdose deaths reached an all-time high, exceeding 70,000, while the suicide rate climbed by nearly 4%, CNN reported. According to government statistics, a person living in the U.S. in 2017 might expect to live 78.6 years, a decrease of 0.1 year from 2016.

“Life expectancy gives us a snapshot of the Nation’s overall health and these sobering statistics are a wakeup call that we are losing too many Americans, too early and too often, to conditions that are preventable,” CDC director Dr. Robert Redfield wrote in a statement.

Interestingly, the higher mortality rates had no impact on the long-standing finding that women tend to outlive men. The report found that a man’s life expectancy was about 76 years while a woman’s was just over 81.

The top 10 leading causes of death for the year, aside from drugs and suicide, were heart disease, cancer, accidental injuries, chronic lower respiratory diseases, stroke, Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes and influenza.

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