Suicides and drug overdoses have pushed down the life expectancy of Americans for the third year running, with the suicide death rate hitting its highest level in 50 years. The new figures show a continuation of the longest sustained decline in expected life span at birth in a century—the worst seen in the U.S. since World War I. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports there were more than 2.8 million U.S. deaths in 2017—nearly 70,000 more than the previous year and the most in a single year since the government began counting over a century ago. Deaths in younger age groups have had the largest effect on calculations of life expectancy, experts said. A baby born last year is expected to live about 78 years and seven months—about a month less than a baby born the year before, and two fewer than the year before that. “These sobering statistics are a wake-up call that we are losing too many Americans, too early and too often, to conditions that are preventable,” said Robert Redfield, the CDC’s director.
If you or a loved one are struggling with suicidal thoughts, please reach out to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).