National Center for Health Statistics just released new data showing that last year, U.S. death rates rose for the first time in a decade.
“The crude death rate for all causes was 841.9 per 100,000 population, an increase from 823.6 in 2014.”
According to New York Times, these numbers have been declining for years as a result of improvements in health, disease management and medical technology. That’s why the sudden turn is surprising, and may be a cause of alarm for the near future
“While it is premature to ring an alarm now, if it continues, it could be a signal of distress in the health of the nation.”
The increase in death rates has been driven by more deaths from drug overdoses, suicide and Alzheimer’s disease.
Recent research confirms sharp rises in death rates among less educated whites, who have been hit hard by the prescription drug epidemic.
New York Times reported earlier this year how deaths from drug overdoses have increased in almost every county across the U.S.
Some of the largest concentrations of overdose deaths were in Appalachia and the Southwest, and they were all
“Driven largely by an explosion in addiction to prescription painkillers and heroin.”
However, increases in an entire population are relatively rare.
The data are not broken down by race, and federal researchers have cautioned that it is too early to tell if the increasing death rates among whites has pushed up the national death rate. Final data will be released later on this year.
New York Times quoted Andrew Fenelon, a researcher at the C.D.C. trying to understand the rising death rates,
“We are not accustomed to seeing death rates increase on a national scale […] We’ve seen increases in mortality for some groups, but it is quite rare to see it for the whole population.”
Another aspect is the comparison with other western countries, which are generally experiencing longer life spans in an increasingly healthier population. This new data will drag the U.S. further behind its European peers:
“Many countries in Europe are witnessing declines in mortality, so the gap between the U.S. and other countries is growing.”
Featured image screengrab from YouTube.