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Troubling new data on drug overdose, suicide death

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Posted at 12:09 PM, Nov 29, 2018
and last updated 2018-11-29 17:55:54-05

New data from the Centers for Disease Control shows a sharp rise in drug and suicide deaths in 2017.

Analysts from the Trust for America’s Health and Well Being Trust say 70,237 Americans died from overdoses last year. This is a rate of 21.7 deaths per 100,000 people.

This shows a dramatic uptick from 2016, where 63,600 Americans died of drug overdoses. Nationally, the 2017 rate reflects a 9.6 percent hike from the year before.

The agency reports startling statistics for Americans who took their own life, citing a 3.7 percent increase. In 2017, 47,173 Americans died by suicide. This manner of death accounts for 14 deaths per 100,000 last year. Between 1999 and 2017, the age-adjusted suicide rate increased by 33 percent.

According to researchers from the Trust for America’s Health and Well Being Trust:

  • West Virginia continued to have the highest rate of overdose deaths, followed by Ohio and Pennsylvania.
  • Drug overdose death rates were higher in 2017 compared to 2016 in 39 states and the District of Columbia. States with the largest change include: New Jersey shows 29 percent, Nebraska has 27 percent, and Indiana has 23 percent increase.
  • On an encouraging note, drug overdose rates fell in eight states. This includes less densely populated states: Wyoming had a 31 percent decrease, North Dakota showed a 13 percent decrease, and New Mexico had a two percent decrease

“Just one person dying from a preventable cause is one death too many,” said Benjamin F. Miller, Psy.D., Chief Strategy Officer, WBT. “Evidence provides clear ways to more proactively address issues of substance misuse and help build resiliency in our communities, but, our country has not yet prioritized investing in prevention and intervention. If we continue to fail to put dollars and common sense into a systematic approach to prevention and treatment, we’ll never ensure optimal health and well-being of our nation.”

The drug epidemic continues to have an impact in some population groups compared from 2016-17.

  • Drug overdose rates for men: increased by 11.1 percent
  • Drug overdose rates for women: increased by 7.5 percent
  • Drug overdose rates for 15- to 24-year-old increased by 1.6 percent
  • Drug overdose rates for 25- to 34-year-old increased by 11.0 percent
  • Drug overdose rates for 35- to 44-year-old increased by 11.4 percent
  • Drug overdose rates for 45- to 54-year-old increased by 9.3 percent
  • Drug overdose rates for 55- to 64-year-old increased by 9.4 percent

“Another year of increasing numbers of drug overdose deaths is a national emergency, that can’t be overstated,” said John Bernbach, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Trust for America’s Health. “Government and the healthcare sector at all levels must adopt a comprehensive approach and strengthen efforts to prevent substance misuse and suicide attempts by addressing their underlying causes. We face a crisis that requires a multi-faceted response and the skills of the public health sector.”

The agencies recommend policies to curb the epidemic including:

  • Identifying risks such as trauma and extreme stress.
  • Encouraging responsible opioid prescribing practices.
  • Education about the risks of addiction.
  • Improved non-drug pain management interventions.
  • Increased availability and use of rescue drugs.
  • Beefing up mental health parity laws.
  • Drug disposal programs.
  • Enhancing “whole person” healthcare including mental and behavioral health, substance misuse screening within primary care settings and ensuring availability of substance abuse treatment programs

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