Mental Health Is More Important Than Ever, As U.S. Life Expectancy Decreases for Third Year In a Row
In what we’d call shocking news, life expectancy in the United States has decreased for the third year in a row, say studies from late 2018. What’s even more disheartening is that this decrease is partially due to increased suicide rates and opioid overdoses.
Generally, health experts say that a growing economy and life-saving medical advancements are more likely to increase life expectancy. But the CDC’s November 2018 report demonstrates that deaths are actually up 0.4 percent in the last year.
“Sadly, this result confirms what many suspected based on data coming out earlier this year: that we continue to lose ground due in large part to preventable causes of death like overdose, suicide, and for deaths due to chronic lower-respiratory diseases, many of which are attributable to tobacco use,” said Ellen Meara, a professor of health economics at Dartmouth College.
While the CDC reports that the uptick in overall deaths can be tied to the prevalence and lethality of Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes and the flu (which was more severe than usual last year), drug overdoses have also increased by 10 percent and suicide rates are up 3.7 percent, holistically leading to the new life expectancy age of 78.6 in the United States.
This change demonstrates that mental health is as important as physical health in determining our lifespan. Experts have attributed the rise in suicide rates to economic woes, physical-health problems, deteriorating relationships and mental-health issues. But, they say, it’s also preventable.
Access to more mental health resources for depression and anxiety, as well as increases in cultural awareness can help curb the rising death tolls. This is where we think holistic health and 360 degrees of wellness becomes even more important. If we can take care of our bodies, minds and spirits, we ultimately have more access to what we need to live a longer, healthier life.
If you or someone you know is having suicidal thoughts, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255, available 24 hours a day, every day.
For more information on mental health, read how experts say you can start a conversation with someone you love about depression and suicide.