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By Maggie Fox
Deaths from drug overdoses rose above 70,000 in 2017, up nearly 10 percent to new record highs, according to new government statistics on Thursday.
The suicide rate also increased, by 3.7 percent. Together, these two causes of untimely death reduced US life expectancy for the second year in a row, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported.
"The latest CDC data shows that US life expectancy has declined over the past few years. Tragically, this disturbing trend is largely driven by deaths from drug overdoses and suicide, "Director of the CDC Dr. Robert Redfield said in a statement.
"This serious statistic is a warning that we are losing too many Americans, too early and too often, for preventable conditions."
The overall life expectancy for Americans is 78.6 years in 2017, down 0.1 years. It may not look like much, but usually, life expectancy rises a little each year. If you go down, that means people die at a young age.
The death rate was largely driven by a surprising increase of 9.6 percent in drug overdoses, from 63,632 in 2016 to 70,237 in 2017. Most of the overdoses involved opioids of several types, and the CDC National Center for Health Statistics recorded a 45 percent increase in deaths from synthetic opioids such as fentanyl and tramadol. They accounted for nearly 30,000 deaths from drug overdoses.
"West Virginia (with 57.8 overdose deaths per 100,000 people), Ohio (46.3 overdose deaths per 100,000), Pennsylvania (44.3), and District of Columbia (44) have the highest drug overdose rates observed based on age at in 2017, "the CDC report reads.
However, the increase was not as much as 21 percent of the surge in death rates due to drug overdoses between 2015 and 2016. But the fact that the number is still increasing despite federal, state and local attention shows a failed attempt to curb the epidemic of opioid abuse.
The suicide rate also continues to increase alarmingly. "The suicide rate in the United States has increased from 10.4 suicides per 100,000 in 1999 to 14 (per 100,000) in 2017," the second CDC report read.
"The suicide rate has increased since 1999 for men and women aged 10-74 years. The most rural tariffs in US districts are almost twice higher than rates in most urban areas. "
10 main causes of death have not changed in rank. Cancer deaths fell 2.1 percent, leaving the No. 1 American killer heart disease. Unintentional injuries, including drug overdose, are the third leading cause of death, followed by lower chronic respiratory disease, stroke, Alzheimer's disease, diabetes, influenza and pneumonia, kidney disease and suicide.
"In 2017, a total of 2,813,503 deaths were registered in the United States – 69,255 more deaths than in 2016," the CDC report said.