Friday, April 18, 2014

How Americans Die

There is a fascinating analysis conducted by Bloomberg which reviews how Americans are dying.  The analysis, and how it is presented, is excellent, and worthy of your review.

There were three distinct findings in the report that really stood out, and I wanted to share them here:

First, while the media and guys like Bloomberg himself would lead you to believe that gun related deaths are exploding, the data show that's not the case.  In fact, they've decreased.  But the dirty little secret that nobody is talking about is the massive rise in drug related deaths, and that suicide is now our #1 cause of death.  That says a lot about us as a society, does it not?

Here's the chart specifically for suicide.  Note that things are fairly flat for most age groups, but spike considerably for the older age groups; especially in the past couple of years.  This begs the question: what's driving our older citizens to kill themselves?  Given the timing and the ages of those involved, I'd speculate that it has to be related to economic conditions and unemployment, but I'm open to other thoughts.

As we get more medically savvy about cancer and heart disease, it leaves room for other things to kill us off at old age, and what has filled that vacuum is dementia and Alzheimer's.  Rates for these are exploding.  And since it is a slow, traumatic (for families), and expensive way to die, the ramifications of how our society will be impacted are dramatic.

The bottom line to all of this is that how we're dying is shifting significantly.  While talk of death seems taboo, it would serve us all well to understand this data, as it is quite telling.    

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