’Deaths of despair’ fuel rising midlife mortality

‘Deaths of despair’ fuel rising midlife mortality for white Americans – CNN.com – March 23, 2017 – By Michael Nedelman

It’s a midlife crisis of a different sort: “Deaths of despair” — due to drugs, alcohol and suicide — are largely responsible for rising mortality rates among middle-age white Americans. And a new analysis by Princeton economists delves into what they believe is behind this trend.

The new analysis builds on their 2015 study that identified an upward trend in mortality for white 45- to 54-year-olds starting in 1998.

“It’s not just … the baby boomers,” said Case. “It really has spread into Gen X, as well.”  

The economy and other social factors may be playing even larger roles, meaning we’re in it for the long haul, according to the researchers. These factors may include a shortage of steady jobs for people without a college degree.

“And when the jobs just aren’t there, they sink into depression or that feeling of general hopelessness,” according to Shannon Monnat, a professor of rural sociology from Penn State University

Thomas’ most recent study, released in January, also showed that premature death was on the rise for Native and white Americans, with drug overdose and suicide contributing heavily to the increase.

However, the Princeton researchers say that the uptick in “deaths of despair” is now countrywide, in both urban and rural areas, even if it didn’t start out so widespread.

The trend can be traced back to the Southwest in 2000, after which it spread to Florida, Appalachia and the West Coast a few years later.

This theme of “deaths of despair” is now ubiquitous in the media as a wide variety of news sources and magazines have picked up on this topic (just like they did on the “opioid crisis”.)

America’s misery has become a cultural “truth”, as evidenced by a quick Google search on this phrase:

‘Deaths of despair’ on the rise among blue-collar whites | TheHill

  • thehill.com/…/state…/325662-deaths-of-despair-on-the-rise-among-blue-collar-whites
  • In a new study, Princeton economists Anne Case and Angus Deaton point to a sharp rise in what they call “deaths of despair,” deaths caused …

The Forces Driving Middle-Aged White People’s ‘Deaths Of Despair’

  • www.npr.org/…shots/…/the-forces-driving-middle-aged-white-peoples-deaths-of-despair
  • Now the husband-and-wife economists say they have a better understanding of what’s causing these “deaths of despair” by suicide, drugs and …

For whites across America, “deaths of despair” are rising – CBS News

  • www.cbsnews.com › MoneyWatch › Trending
  • Alcoholism, drug addiction and suicide are driving up mortality rates for less-educated whites.

There’s been a surge in ‘deaths of despair’ among white middle-aged …

  • www.marketwatch.com › Personal Finance
  • Causes of death include drugs and suicide, as well as heart disease and cancer.

A ‘deaths of despair’ crisis is gripping America – Business Insider

  • www.businessinsider.com/a-deaths-of-despair-crisis-is-gripping-america-2017-3
  • We’ve known how to stop the ‘Deaths of Despair‘ crisis gripping America’s white working class for 120 years.

Study finds white working class increasingly dying ‘deaths of despair …

  • www.chicagotribune.com/…/ct-white-working-class-deaths-of-despair-20170324-stor…
  • Less-educated middle-aged white Americans are dying disproportionately from what one expert calls “deaths of despair,” new research shows….

Deaths Of Despair: The White American Working Class Is Dying …

  • https://www.buzzfeed.com/…/deaths-of-despair-white-working-class-americans-are-dy…
  • The mortality rate for middle-aged whites without a college degree has shot upward in the last decade, even as death rates for blacks and…

White Americans Are Dying From A Surge In ‘Deaths Of Despair’ | The …

  • www.huffingtonpost.com/…/deaths-of-despair-white-americans_us_58d3e14de4b0f8…
  • The authors wrote that increases in deaths of despair are accompanied by a measurable deterioration in the economic and social well-being of …

Death Rates Rise for Wide Swath of White Adults, Study Finds – WSJ

  • https://www.wsj.com/articles/death-rates-rise-for-wide-swath-of-white-adults-1490240740
  • Death Rates Rise for Wide Swath of White Adults, Study Finds. Increases in ‘deaths of despair‘—from drugs, alcohol-related liver diseases and …

White working class increasingly hit with ‘deaths of despair,’ report finds

  • abcnews.go.com/Health/white-working-class-increasingly-hit-deaths-despair…/story?…
  • White working class increasingly hit with ‘deaths of despair,’ report finds.

The Despair Death of the Middle-Aged American – The Atlantic

  • https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2015/11/boomers-deaths-pnas/413971/
  • Middle-Aged White Americans Are Dying of Despair … with a high-school degree or less increased by 134 deaths per 100,000 people between …

Working class white Americans are now dying in middle age at faster …

  • https://www.brookings.edu/…/working-class-white-americans-are-now-dying-in-middle-…
  • 3 days ago – Dividing the country into 1,000-plus regions, the authors find that the rate of “deaths of despair” (deaths by drugs, alcohol, and suicide) in …



4 thoughts on “’Deaths of despair’ fuel rising midlife mortality

  1. Laura P. Schulman, MD, MA

    Everyone tries to tie the increasing mortality to external factors: jobs, drugs, the economy, whatever. What we’re seeing is a population that is plastered to screens all day, exercises only for looks or competition, thinks “game night” or the “Emmys” is a cause for….what? Celebration in excess, of excess, or something. Nobody questions this incredible vacuum of meaning. Even the new opportunities for social action come with platforms and policy packages that exclude all who do not buy the whole thing. Questioning authority is only to be done within…a framework of authority. The individual only has meaning as a cog in the wheels of organization. Governments endorse torture. Fear of incarceration is grounded in reality. Abrogation of individual rights is the norm. Search and seizure laws no longer apply.

    And they wonder why people are killing themselves?

    Oh yes: If you have significant pain, and you read/watch the news, the idea of suicide might float through the mind. If one is disabled, unemployed, isolated, in pain, unable to afford or even find appropriate health care…well, a person gets feeling hopeless and desperate. Thus, suicide.

    Thanks for this great compilation! You are really building a legacy here.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Zyp Czyk Post author

      Thank you so much, Laura, for the great compliment. On some miserable days I don’t even remember why I keep doing this and toy with the idea of quitting.

      But then I quickly catch myself and remeber that collecting (and criticising) info is “what I do” these days. Even on days when it’s a painful or exhausting task, I feel a strange obligation to plod on.

      It’s not an obligation to any person or idea, it’s just part of my general obligation to make the best of what’s happened to my life, to not let myself slide into idle apathy. If I gave up the discipline of regular blogging, I’d lose the precious sense of productive accomplishment I derive from it.

      I’m so gratified that you find my blog useful!

      PS Did anyone ever find out what happened to Johnna? I keep thinking about her. I still can’t picture her gone because I don’t know how and/or why she left. I never imagined I’d need to know such macabre details to feel closure.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Laura P. Schulman, MD, MA

    You are employing your specialized skill set to compile this annotated collection of resources that most people don’t even know exist, and don’t have access to. You’re doing meaningful work, which to me is the difference between life and death.

    Johnna had not been feeling well for quite a while when she wrote me in December asking about how to execute an Advance Directive. She was last heard from on January 20, and found in her apartment by her landlord a couple weeks later. Still have not heard the autopsy report. From photos that surfaced via her memorial, I see she had lost a huge amount of weight recently. She wrote me that she had physical signs that she might not be alive long. I can think of a short list of reasons, but Lisa will probably have the pathologist’s findings when the family gets them. That is, IF they decide that a poverty-stricken single female merits an actual cause-of-death examination, which remains to be seen.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Zyp Czyk Post author

      Thanks for the update. I’m starting to feel a glimmer of understanding. I’ll just assume she found a non-violent way out of the mess this place (state, country, world) is turning into.

      I so admired her with her “take-no-shit” attitude. I had helped her with some technical details to get started blogging and then she took off and turned out to be far tougher than I. I kind of expected her to always be out there, pushing back against the latest atrocities. I don’t understand why I’m so upset about this.

      About 1.5 yrs ago, I was deeply depressed after a TBI when she heard the desperation in my writing and sent me a wonderful comforting and supportive email. I was floored at the sensitivity and kindness this tough lady showed me. Damn.



Other thoughts?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.