We’ve always known that there are links between addiction and suicide. Depression, in particular, is often an offshoot of a dependency (particularly when it relates to alcoholism). But did you know that there is actually a term for this type of behavior? It’s called “Deaths of Despair” and it’s on the rise in states across the country.
Technically, the term “deaths of despair” means any suicide that is tied alcohol or drug use. These aren’t necessarily overdoses, per se, but rather self-inflicted fatalities following some type of substance abuse. The scary thing, according to TheFix.com, is that these types of deaths have shot up by 50 percent over the past ten years.
According to the data released by State Health System Performance Report, West Virginia is the area where this behavior has hit its peak. Their “death of despair” mortality rate has reached 83 per every 100,000 residents (compared to the national average of 35) in the last year.
Our home state of California was listed 22nd when it came to “deaths of despair” across the nation. Though not as bad of some of the middle-America regions, our ranking does raise concern. The high cost of living has certainly contributed to increased depression counts, particularly when you think about Los Angeles’ rising homeless crisis. That coupled with addiction is seen a great contributor to the rise of suicides in our state.
Publishers of the study have already spoken out, urging for more health care and therapy options for people who may be suffering. We know firsthand how important counseling can be during the recovery process.
“This scorecard shows us that all states have the opportunity to improve, including those at the top,” Commonwealth Fund President David Blumenthal said in statement. “Moving forward, we should continue to evaluate states’ progress and support effective policies that are making it easier for people to get and afford the health care they need.”
Another condition that has been said to contribute to the “despair” tally is obesity and the hopelessness that people feel when confronted with drastic weight gains. States like New Mexico, Ohio and Kentucky were all listed as areas where this problem is seen as a primary factor.
It is also important to note that “deaths of despair” have actually lowered the nation’s life expectancy (much like the opioid crisis has). Obviously this is a very serious issue and one that can be improved upon, with the proper recovery tools in place.