Why Is Life Expectancy Falling in US?

Explaining deadly choices

| “I don’t think people have a lot to live for”

| Voice of America News – Suicides and drug overdoses are two reasons for a continuing decrease in how long Americans are expected to live.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported recently that there were more than 2.8 million deaths in the United States in 2017.

Of those, 47,000 were suicides and 70,000 were drug overdoses.

If you want to understand why life expectancy is decreasing in America, the state of West Virginia may offer some answers.

Maggie Hill has lived in West Virginia for all of her life. Hill, who is 67, told the Associated Press about the many deaths in her family.

  • An older brother drowned in a flood.
  • A sister died in a house fire.
  • Two siblings, both who smoked, died of lung cancer.
  • Two others died at birth.
  • Her first husband died of heart failure.

Then there were the suicides. Two of her three sons shot themselves to death. Her second husband killed himself one Sunday morning while she was still in bed.

“I don’t think people have a lot to live for,” Hill said. “I really and truly don’t see things getting better.”

“It seems that the worst outcomes happen here first.”

Dr. Michael Brumage is a public health expert at West Virginia University. He used to run the health department in Charleston, West Virginia. He said, “It seems that the worst outcomes happen here first.”

Among the 50 American states, West Virginia has the second- lowest life expectancy, behind only Mississippi. Hawaii has the highest life expectancy.

The nationwide drug overdose death rate today is what West Virginia’s was 10 years ago.

In fact, West Virginia has had the nation’s highest rate of drug overdose deaths for several years.

The nation’s suicide rate today is where West Virginia’s was nearly 20 years ago.

West Virginia also has more people affected by diabetes, heart disease and obesity than most other American states.

Ten years ago, the AP described the West Virginia city of Huntington as the unhealthiest place in America. The finding was based on health information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The report led the city and the wider area to make changes to food served at schools. Read more. 

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