The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued its annual report on Mortality in the United States and found more bad news. The United States continues to see a decline in life expectancy, something that is unusual for a developed country to experience over several years. The mortality numbers continue to show another increase in drug overdose deaths now at 70,000 up again from the previous year when overdoses where at 63,000 in 2016. The 70,000 figure represents a fourfold increase since the start of this century. Opioids continues to drive that surge but as prescription drugs have seemed to level off heroine and especially fentanyl have increased.

The CDC number also show a continued increase in suicides U.S. suicide rate has continued to increase, from 10.5 suicides per 100,000 population in 1999 to 14.0 in 2017.

CDC Director Dr Robert Redfield indicated that some of the opioid overdose numbers may be leveling off in 2018 but the CDC has limited data for this year. The states with the highest and lowest rates were: West Virginia (57.8 deaths per 100,000 population), Ohio (46.3), Pennsylvania (44.3) and the District of Columbia (44.0) had the highest observed age-adjusted drug overdose death rates in 2017, while Texas (10.5), North Dakota (9.2), South Dakota (8.5) and Nebraska (8.1) had the lowest.

Redfield said “The latest CDC data show that the U.S. life expectancy has declined over the past few years. Tragically, this troubling trend is largely driven by deaths from drug overdose and suicide. These sobering statistics are a wakeup call that we are losing too many Americans, too early and too often, to conditions that are preventable.”