Deaths of despair are deaths that result from drugs, alcohol, and suicide. It is a number the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention have been tracking for the last few decades. It has also shown a major and alarming climb upward since 1999. Deaths of despair reveal an underbelly of our modern society where people are quietly suffering. This large number of people are not dying from plague, war, or terrorism. They are dying by their own hands as they lose hope in life and the world around them.
- In 2017, according to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, there were 47,173 suicides in the United States. There was 1.4 million total attempted suicides. Suicides rose by 30% between 1999 and 2017.
- 70% Of all suicide attempts in the US in 2017 were by white men. Middle age men in the US average 22 suicides per 100,000 people. The fastest growing age bracket for these deaths is age 45-64.
- Specialists estimate that 112 people are impacted by a single suicide death.
- Since 2005, 26 states have experienced increases in drug overdoses of between 107%-450%.
- More men are drinking themselves to death, overdosing and killing themselves. These deaths among men rose by more than half from 2000 to 2014.
- In 1999, fewer than 1,000 deaths were attributed to fentanyl and synthetic opioids. In 2018 more than 1,000 Americans died from synthetic opioid overdoses every two weeks.
- During the last five years, opioid overdose has become the leading cause of death for Americans under the age of 55.
It is time for our society to recognize many of the foundations we have built upon are not capable of sustaining life. There are many causes driving these surging rates in deaths of despair but few of the hollow values and life philosophies are held accountable to their end results today.
Additional Reading About Deaths of Despair
- All American Despair (Rolling Stone)
- Rising morbidity and mortality in midlife among white non-Hispanic Americans in the 21st century (PNAS)
- The Shocking Rise in Deaths of Despair Charted (Advisory Board)