Study Finds Rise In “Deaths Of Despair” Among Middle-Aged Black And Native Americans

April 12, 2024

A recent study reveals a troubling trend: middle-aged Black and Native Americans are now experiencing higher rates of “deaths of despair” compared to White Americans, according to new research.

Traditionally, deaths from suicide, drug overdose, and alcoholic liver disease were more prevalent among White Americans. However, a recent analysis has uncovered a significant increase in deaths of despair among Black and Native Americans over the past decade.

“… rate was highest among Native American/Alaska Native populations …”

Researchers discovered that the rate of deaths of despair among Black Americans tripled between 2013 and 2022, soaring from 36 deaths per 100,000 individuals to nearly 104 deaths per 100,000. This rate slightly surpassed that of White Americans in 2022, which was nearly 103 deaths per 100,000. Shockingly, the rate was highest among Native American/Alaska Native populations, with nearly 242 deaths of despair per 100,000 in 2022.

Joseph Friedman, a researcher from the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA Health, emphasized the urgent need for enhanced services to address these issues. He highlighted the necessity for improved access to mental healthcare and substance use treatment, particularly tailored to the needs of communities of color to combat inequality.

“… White Americans with the highest rate of deaths of despair in 2013 …”

Deaths of despair gained attention following a 2015 study that investigated declining life expectancy and rising mid-life deaths in the U.S. between 1999 and 2013. The initial study identified White Americans with the highest rate of deaths of despair in 2013 (72 deaths per 100,000), twice that of Black Americans. Native Americans were not included in this earlier analysis.

While the new data does not pinpoint specific drivers behind these deaths, researchers emphasize the strong link to mental health and substance use disorders. Friedman noted that Black Americans have been disproportionately affected by the drug overdose crisis due to limited healthcare access, economic insecurity, and exposure to tainted drugs.

“… underscores the critical need for comprehensive interventions …”

The study, published in JAMA Psychiatry, underscores the critical need for comprehensive interventions to address these alarming trends in mortality among marginalized communities.

For further information, visit the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s resources on deaths of despair.

Editors Note: With life before COVID< life during COVID and Now this research and yet there is no conversation regarding healthcare for all Americans – astonishing.

Photo credit: HWM.

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