John Stonestreet and Roberto Rivera: Are Americans Dying Younger Due to Despair?

Years ago, Chuck Colson asked, “Where is the hope?” Too many Americans today have no answer, and it’s showing.

For the third year in a row, according to a November report from the Centers for Disease Control, American life expectancy dropped.

The last time this happened was a century ago, in the years 1915-1918, years marked by our entry into World War I and the outbreak of the “Spanish Flu” pandemic, which killed 675,000 Americans.

This time, neither war nor pestilence is behind the drop in life expectancy. The threats are not external, but internal.

The biggest factors behind the drop in life expectancy among Americans over the last three years are drug overdoses and suicides. In 2017, more than 70,000 Americans died from drug overdoses, and approximately 45,000 people intentionally took their own lives.

These deaths, along with alcohol-related deaths, have been dubbed “deaths of despair” by researchers Anne Case and Angus Deaton.

The “despair” referred to by Case and Deaton is largely economic, resulting from diminished job prospects and other personal disappointments. As Case put it, “Your family life has fallen apart, you don’t know your kids anymore, all the things you expected when you started out your life just haven’t happened at all.”

As a result, people, usually but not always men, turn to alcohol and drugs to ease their pain. An increasing number take their own lives.

Certainly, Case and Deaton’s explanation is partially true. But it doesn’t explain the 30-percent rise in suicide rates among 15-to-24 year-olds, who haven’t experienced these kinds of disappointments. Nor does material deprivation explain why the suicide rate among African Americans and Hispanics is only about a third that of white Americans despite being, on average, poorer.

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SOURCE: Christian Post, John Stonestreet and Roberto Rivera