U.S. life expectancy declined in 2017 as more Americans died of drug overdoses and suicides, furthering a troubling trend of declining lifespans not seen in a century, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found in a report released Thursday.
Life expectancy was 78.6 years in 2017, down from 78.7 years in 2016, the CDC said.
Life expectancy also declined in 2015 and stayed flat in 2016, making this the first three-year period of general decline since the late 1910s. That decline took place during World War I and a sweeping flu epidemic — and before dozens of medical advances.
In 2017, the rate of drug overdose deaths was 9.6 percent higher than in 2016, with 70,237 people dying from drug overdoses, many of them from the epidemic of opioid abuse.
Meanwhile, the suicide rate has increased a massive 33 percent since 1999, the CDC said. There are now 14 suicides per 100,000 people, up from 10.5 in 1999.
“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,” said CDC Director Robert Redfield.
“Life expectancy gives us a snapshot of the Nation’s overall health and these sobering statistics are a wakeup call that we are losing too many Americans, too early and too often, to conditions that are preventable,” he added.