Declining U.S. Life Expectancy Reflects Cultural Depravity
"We are losing too many Americans, too early and too often, to conditions that are preventable."
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s “Mortality in the United States, 2017” report reveals that, while mortality hasn’t cliff-dived — the aggregate rate of 78.7 years in 2016 fell just a tenth of a point to 78.6 years in 2017 — some of the chief contributors are greatly disconcerting.
In 2017, 47,173 Americans took their own lives, propelling the suicide rate to a half-century high. According to the Associated Press, “The suicide rate was 14 deaths per 100,000 people. That’s the highest since at least 1975.”
The AP adds, “Drug overdose deaths also continued to climb, surpassing 70,000 last year, in the midst of the deadliest drug overdose epidemic in U.S. history. … Accidental drug overdoses account for more than a third of the unintentional injury deaths, and intentional drug overdoses account for about a tenth of the suicides, said Dr. Holly Hedegaard, a CDC injury researcher.”
We’ve come a long way in terms of life expectancy, of course, and we’re still better off than European and Asian nations with higher suicide rates. But the trend has unfortunately become transposed. “For decades,” the AP explains, “U.S. life expectancy was on the upswing, rising a few months nearly every year. Now it’s trending the other way: It fell in 2015, stayed level in 2016, and declined again last year, the CDC said. The nation is in the longest period of a generally declining life expectancy since the late 1910s, when World War I and the worst flu pandemic in modern history combined to kill nearly 1 million Americans. Life expectancy in 1918 was 39.”
Thankfully, today’s mortality is nowhere near that. But taking into account the technology age that has revolutionized medicine, the fact the rate is falling at all signals a deeper issue. It speaks to the cultural rot that has inflicted America to an ever-worsening degree. Even researchers partially acknowledge this.
According to Dr. Robert Redfield, “These sobering statistics are a wake-up call that we are losing too many Americans, too early and too often, to conditions that are preventable.” Dr. William Dietz added, “I really do believe that people are increasingly hopeless, and that that leads to drug use. It leads potentially to suicide.”
But what causes hopelessness? The Left and Right differ greatly on the answer. But common sense suggests the collapse of the family and even technology are foremost culprits. As columnist Mona Charen observes, “Due to unmarriage and divorce, more Americans are living alone than at any time in our history. Let me quickly acknowledge that the steep rise in adolescent depression in recent years may have more to do with social media than anything else.”
She adds, “Not only do divorce and rapidly cycling relationships (and living arrangements) leave adults and especially children emotionally scarred, the loss of secure families also leaves millions of people lonely. … We are not meant to be alone, and we don’t find emotional succor or physical satisfaction in relationships with screens.”
Fewer than 20,000 people are murdered every year (less than half of those with firearms), meaning suicides and drug overdoses vastly outnumber homicides. Yet far more attention is paid to murders and “gun violence.” But make no mistake: All of them are linked by an indifference for earthly life, which in turn stems from a mentality that’s devoid of gratitude, meaning, and, most importantly, spiritual direction. For these reasons, don’t hold out hope for the secular, fearmongering media to provide the right remedy.