Life expectancy in the United States dropped yet again as drug overdose deaths continued to climb — taking more than 70,000 lives in 2017 — and suicides rose, a US government report said Thursday.
The drug overdose rate rose 9.6 percent compared to 2016, while suicides climbed 3.7 percent, said the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) National Center for Health Statistics.
As a result, the average life span in America dropped to “78.6 years, a decrease of 0.1 year from 2016,” said the report.
The data comes as the United States grapples with a vast opioid epidemic, fueled by addiction to prescription painkillers as well as street drugs like heroin and synthetic opioids including fentanyl.
“The latest CDC data show that the US life expectancy has declined over the past few years. Tragically, this troubling trend is largely driven by deaths from drug overdose and suicide,” said CDC director Robert Redfield.
“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.”
Overdoses were a major factor when US life expectancy dropped slightly in 2015 for the first time in decades.