Drug Overdoses, Guns, and Autos: Why Young Americans Die
This week, the Journal of the American Medical Association reported that Americans are, on average, dying younger than people in other countries. Why? Simple – auto accidents, guns, and drug overdoses. Should this be obvious? Not necessarily. The fact is, there is a substantial gap between young persons in the United States and other first world countries, such as Great Britain.
The National Center for Health Statistics state than these three causes of injury account for 6% of U.S, men fatalities, and 3% of women. This fact may help explain why the U.S. ranks only about average in terms of life expectancy – although health care expenditures are much higher.
Moreover, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention claim say that the U.S. life expectancy at birth is lower than that of other prosperous countries. In the past, much of the research has been targeted at the over 50 population. However, the life expectancy gap is probably due more to mortality at a younger age, when years or decades of a life can be lost.
But rather than health issues, these causes of death are primarily accidental or due to injury – vehicle crashes, injuries related to firearms, and drug overdoses/poisonings. Prescription drugs are responsible for the most overdoses. Combined, the three categories are responsible for over 100,000 fatalities annually. And this doesn’t include alcohol poisoning, which takes another 2200 lives.
Death rates were compared to other countries in a similar income bracket. They included the U.K., Germany, Austria, Denmark, Finland, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Japan, Italy, Portugal and Spain.
On average, men residing in these countries live over 2 years longer than Americans – 78.6 compared to 76.4 years. Half of the difference (1 year) is accounted for by the three major death causes. Similarly, women lived 83.4 years compared to 81.2.
Still, life expectancy in the U.S. is at an all-time high – roughly 78,8 years. But this number hasn’t increased significantly in some time – only about 2+ years in the last decade.
Additionally, Americans have higher rates of homicide, injury, drug abuse, and infant mortality. They are 7 times more likely to be murdered than those in other countries, and 20 times more likely to die by firearm. Health-wise, they also fall behind in terms of heart and lung disease.