Small step down

Drop in life expectancy caused by suicide and opioid-related deaths


graphic by Victoria Van

Story by Lindsey Egger, editor in chief

The average life expectancy has dropped again. After hitting a peak in 2014, it has declined ever since. The average life expectancy of a baby born in the U.S. in 2017 is 78.6 years.

The cause of the drop is due to the rise in the rate of opioid-related deaths and suicide. Deaths caused by overdose hit a record high in 2017 at more than 72,000. The suicide death rate increased 3.7 percent according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics.

Main causes of death in U.S.:

While the life expectancy percentage decreased, the top 10 causes of death remained the same. Heart disease, cancer, accidents, chronic lower respiratory disease, stroke, Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, influenza/pneumonia, nephritis, and intentional self-harm.

graphic by Victoria Van

Deaths caused by drug overdose:

In 2017, deaths due to drug overdose totaled 70,237, which is 6,600 more than 2016. Drug overdose rates have been significantly higher for males than females; about 29 men per 100,000 die from overdoses, while the death rate for women is 14 per 100,000. Deaths due to drug overdose were most significant in the adult population. The rate of deaths caused by overdose involving synthetic opioids increased 45 percent in 2017.                                                            

Suicide death rates:

Since 2008, suicide has been ranked the 10th leading cause of death for all ages in the U.S. The rates are readily increasing every year. In 2016, it became the second leading cause of death for ages 10-34. Suicide rates for males are significantly higher than females. For ages 25-44, male suicide rates were 3.5 times higher than females.

What could make you live longer:

The CDC says lifestyle changes like physical activity, healthy eating and avoiding tobacco could significantly reduce the death rates in the U.S.

There are several ways to achieve healthy living. Maintaining a healthy weight by becoming aware of caloric intake and calculating body mass index is advised in order to decrease the chance of weight-related deaths. Limiting alcohol consumption can lower the risk of cancer, stroke and accidental injuries. Limiting the exposure of sun and ultraviolet rays can lower the risk of skin cancer.