Despair is Shortening Men’s Lives

The lifespan of the average American white male is on the decline, perhaps for the first time in history. There was a decline from 2015 to 2018, but that could be attributed specifically to the Spanish flu pandemic and mass casualties in the trench warfare of WW I. The cause of today’s decline is more nebulous.

A new report by the CDC highlights three possible causes: a rise in the number if drug overdoses, a rise in the number of suicides, and an increase in liver disease.

The average age of life expectancy for men today is 76.1 years, down from 76.5 years three years ago.

It's not by a lot, shaving off extra months - but that's your life. Baylor College of Medicine psychiatrist Dr. Asim Shah says there are a number of causes for the decline in a country that spends more than any other on health care. “We are seeing more and more people at old age who are poor, meaning less well-off financially, and that is causing more despair also,” he says. Dr. Shah is the Executive Vice Chair of the Menninger Department of Psychiatry, and says culture plays a role in gender expression. “By nature, men don’t share their issues with a lot of people, which makes them more vulnerable to depression and despair. It’s a little easier for women to share their views and emotions.”

The mortality rate for drug overdoses jumped 82% over the course of a decade, while suicide rates increased 24% in the same time frame. Life expectancy for all demographics peaked around 2012 to 2014.

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