Mortality from alcohol, drugs and suicide in the United States reached a maximum in 20 years
The number of deaths from alcohol, drugs and suicides in the United States reached the highest level in the entire history of collecting federal data since 1999, according to an analysis of data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, conducted with the participation of two non-profit organizations.
In 2017, the national death rate from alcohol, drugs and suicide increased from 43,9 to 46,6 deaths by 100 000 people, which is 6% more than the previous reporting period, writes USA Today. This is a slower growth than in the previous two years, but higher than the annual 4-percent increase from the 1999 year.
Deaths from suicide rose from 13,9 to 14,5 cases per 100 people - an increase of 000%, which is twice the average annual data for the previous decade. Suicide by suffocation increased by 4% from 42 to 2008, and by firearms by 2017%.
Psychologist Benjamin Miller, director of well-being foundation strategy for the organization, says that broader efforts are needed to eliminate the causes of these problems than are being made now.
“It's like a joke how simple we are trying to solve these problems,” he says. "We're not changing direction, it's getting worse."
The Foundation for Health of America and the Well-Being Foundation offer the following approaches:
- More funding and support for programs that reduce risk factors and contribute to the psychological stability of children, families and communities. Injuries, adverse childhood experiences (such as parents in prison, domestic violence) increase the risk of drug abuse, alcohol abuse and the likelihood of suicide.
- Policies restricting people's access to potential suicide drugs - Ensure safe storage of drugs and firearms and responsible opioid prescribing practices.
- More resources for programs that reduce the risk of drug abuse and overdose, especially in areas and among people most affected by this effect, and equal access to these programs.
According to Miller, although antidotes for overdose and treatment of opioid disorders are necessary, "this will not solve" the main problems that cause people to die as a result of substance abuse or suicide.
In most states, deaths from alcohol, drugs and suicide have increased. But five - Massachusetts, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, Utah and Wyoming - have fewer deaths.
Mortality from synthetic opioids, including fentanyl, the narcotic anesthetic, increased by 45%. Over the past five years, the number of such deaths has increased 10 times.
Miller says people feel “lack of belonging” to a group, family, or community and “look for meaning in other places.” This can make their care addictive.
Kimberly MacDonald, a clinical government and private practice social worker, lost her father due to his suicide in 2010.
“We are a society that criticizes and lacks compassion, honesty and empathy,” says Kimberly, a Richmond, Wisconsin resident. “I work with people every day, each with their own demons.”
MacDonald’s father committed suicide after a diagnosis of dementia and Parkinson’s disease.
“He knew where the disease would take him,” she says.
John Auerbach, a former Massachusetts health minister who heads the Foundation for America’s Health, is convinced that the country needs to better understand and decide what drives “these destructive deaths from despair.”
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