Guns Have Decreased The Life Expectancy Of Black Americans

Henrietta Strickland
December 6, 2018

Alia Dastagir, enterprise reporter for USA Today. Gun-related suicides shortened life expectancy by 1.6 years in whites and about six months for blacks. In three reports issued Thursday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention laid out a series of statistics that revealed some troubling trend lines - including rapidly increasing rates of death from drug overdoses and suicide.

Robert Anderson, chief of the Center for Health Statistics' mortality branch, tells the Post's Bernstein that the leveling off of prescription drug deaths may be the result of public health initiatives created to curb the widespread availability and subsequent abuse of such medicines. The age-adjusted suicide death rate increased 23% between 2006 and 2017-increasing from 11 deaths per 100,000 people to to 14 deaths per 100,000.

The academic study shows "guns caused the life expectancy of Black Americans to drop by more than four years from 2000 to 2016, twice as much as the decline in life expectancy of white Americans during the same period". That's a 10 percent increase from 2016. Only 17,000 people died of overdoses that year.

"Higher suicide rates in rural areas are due to almost 60 percent of rural homes having a gun versus less than half of homes in urban areas", psychiatrist and behavioral scientist Keith Humphreys of Stanford University says. It was the most deaths in a single year since the government began counting more than a century ago.

"The increase partly reflects the nation's growing and aging population". Both suicide and overdoses affect young adults in rural communities in particular and are considered preventable causes of death, making them crucial to address. Currently, for someone born in 2017, US life expectancy is an average of 78.76 years. Despite being wealthy, the lagging behind other similar countries in terms of life expectancy. The total life expectancy loss attributable to firearm assault, specifically, was calculated at 3.41 years for black Americans, and 0.51 years for white Americans. Deaths by suicide, meanwhile, are more common among older white Americans, who have already lived a greater proportion of their estimated lifespan, resulting in a smaller total dip in life expectancy.

Opioid overdose deaths have been steadily climbing in the state. That's an increase of 9.6 percent over 2016's numbers. One of the reasons that more people are dying from drug overdose is because of the easy access to Fentanyl, which is a synthetic opioid.

The ages at which assaults and deaths by suicide occur also matter, the researchers note. Between 2006 and 2016, the drug overdose death rate has increased by a total of 72% (see U.S. Drug Overdose Rate Climbs; Heroin & Prescription Opioids Top The List and Drug Overdose Deaths in the United States, 1999-2017).

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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