U.S. Deaths From Suicide, Substance Abuse Reach Record High

Deaths from drugs, alcohol and suicide in the United States hit an all-time high in 2017 — more than 150,000 in all.

That number was more than double 1999 levels, according to a chilling new analysis of U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data by the Trust for America’s Health and Well Being Trust, two health policy organizations.

Nationwide, the death rate due to alcohol, drugs and suicide rose 6 percent between 2016 and 2017, from nearly 44 to 46.6 deaths per 100,000, the study found. Though that increase was smaller than in the two preceding years, it was higher than the 4 percent average annual increase since 1999.

Full story at US News

Demand For Veteran Counseling Puts Stress On The Counselors

Combat veterans from the Vietnam-era through the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan often turn to Vet Center counselors for help with post-traumatic stress or depression. And some of these counselors are themselves feeling stress – in part, they say, because of what they’re calling unrealistic productivity requirements.

Ted Blickwedel, 63, is a Marine Corps veteran living in Smithfield, R.I. And recently, when he was working as a clinical social worker at his local Vet Center in nearby Warwick, he began to think about suicide.

“I didn’t sit around and ruminate about how I’m going to go about taking my own life or anything,” he says, “but nonetheless, it was just this sense that I didn’t want to be here anymore.”

Full story at NPR.org

How high altitudes could raise risk of depression, suicide

A new systematic review, now published in the Harvard Review of Psychiatry, found that people living in high-altitude areas of the United States, such as intermountain states, have higher-than-average rates of suicide and depression.

The researchers, from the University of Utah in Salt Lake City, suggest that low atmospheric pressure at high altitudes may lower blood oxygen levels.

This may affect mood and make people living at these altitudes more susceptible to suicidal thoughts, they explain.

Full story at Medical News Today

Deaths From Drugs, Alcohol and Suicide Reach New Peaks in Communities of Color

Deaths from drugs, alcohol and suicide—known as “deaths of despair”—are increasing among blacks, Latinos and Asians, according to a new report from the Trust for America’s Health and the Well Being Trust.

While drug overdoses were still highest among whites in 2016, there were disproportionately large increases in drug deaths among racial/ethnic minority groups, particularly among black Americans, the study found.

Full story at drugfree.org

Opioids and obesity, not ‘despair deaths,’ raising mortality rates for white Americans

Drug-related deaths among middle-aged white men increased more than 25-fold between 1980 and 2014, with the bulk of that spike occurring since the mid-1990s when addictive prescription opioids became broadly available, according to new CU Boulder research.

The study, published online today in the International Journal of Epidemiology, also found that, contrary to widely reported research findings, suicide and alcohol-related deaths are not to blame for increasing mortality rates among middle-aged whites.

The results call into question recent reports suggesting that what have become known collectively as “despair deaths” — by suicide, alcohol and drugs — are on the rise among white Americans, particularly men, facing a lack of economic opportunity and an increase in chronic pain.

Full story of opioids and obesity at Science Daily