In the United States the overall life expectancy is down, according to a new report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The decline is not the cause of some new widespread disease, rather the cause of something preventable.
“Heart disease and cancer are one and two which is not unusual, they’ve been the one and two for a long time. But unintentional injuries are the third leading cause of death and you can look at something that we’ve been experiencing locally, I think statewide,” said La Crosse County Health Department Education Manager Paula Silha.
Unintentional deaths coming from overdoses, and suicides.
More than 70,000 died from drug overdoses in the U.S. in 2017, a ten percent increase from the year before.
Suicide rates increased by nearly four percent as well.
“I think there just needs to be more emphasis put on mental health so people aren’t afraid to speak up. They aren’t afraid to ask for help. And I think funding is an issue too,” said Mayo Clinic Health System Franciscan Healthcare Clinical Therapist Theresa Helgeson.
Life expectancy for Americans dropped from 78.7 years to 78.6 years, and while it may not seem like a big fall health officials still say it is a troubling sign.
“Well I think it’s the first time since the 1920s and 30s that we’ve seen a decrease in life expectancy. And I think for our children we want them to live to be 80, 90 and older and so we want to pay attention to this,” said Silha.
In a statement, CDC Director Robert Redfield called the report “a wakeup call that we are losing too many Americans, too early and too often”.
This is the second straight year that life expectancy has dropped.
Silha says while discouraging, she is hopeful that efforts on mental health and substance abuse in local communities like La Crosse can bring the curve back up.