The drug overdose rate rose 9.6 per cent compared to 2016, while suicides climbed 3.7 per cent, said the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) National Centre for Health Statistics. "Tragically, this troubling trend is largely driven by deaths from drug overdose and suicide", he said in a press release.
Overall, there were more than 2.8 million US deaths in 2017, or almost 70,000 more than the previous year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Thursday.
Life expectancy also decreased from 2016 to 2017, going from 78.7 years to 78.6 years.
A class of synthetic drugs has replaced heroin in many major American drug markets, ushering in a more deadly phase of the opioid epidemic. From 2016 to 2017, the age-adjusted death rate for the entire population increased by 0.4 percent. That four-year period included World War I and a flu pandemic that killed 675,000 people in the United States and perhaps 50 million worldwide. Though constant, the rate has increased over time from about 10 suicides per 100,000 in 1999 to 14 per 100,000 in 2017.
Life expectancy in the US has fallen once again, following a trend that began in 2015 when the average expected life span of a baby born in the United States took a small but significant hit. Drug overdoses account for slightly less than half of the deaths in this category.
According to the US Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the 10 leading causes of death in 2017 remain unchanged from the previous year: heart disease, cancer, unintentional injuries, chronic lower respiratory diseases, stroke, Alzheimer's disease, diabetes, influenza and pneumonia, kidney disease and suicide.
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For decades, life expectancy was on the upswing, but it dropped between 2014 and 2015, stayed level in 2016 and fell again in 2017.
Indeed, a second report, also from the CDC, found that deaths from drug overdoses continue to soar. Suicide has consistently been among the 10 leading causes of death in the US over the past decade.
The recent increases in drug overdose deaths have been so steep that they have contributed to reductions in the country's life expectancy over the past three years and are the leading cause of death for adults under 55.
There is no solution to the continued decline in life expectancy forthcoming from the ruling class.
The suicide rate in 2017 for females aged 75 and over (4.0) was significantly lower than the rate in 1999 (4.5). The cases in rural counties were nearly double than the suicide rates in urban counties.
In 2017, the suicide rate for the most rural counties (20 per 100,000) outpaced that in the most urban counties (about 11 per 100,000).
"So the frustration that many of us feel is that there are things that could save many lives", he said, "and we are failing to make those services available".