A Hidden Plague
Why aren’t we talking about the large numbers of young people who are dying? A 2011 high school graduate recently told me that of the 800 members of her graduating class, 75 have already died.
That’s almost 10% of the class.
This is not a school in a war zone or one that has experienced a mass shooting. It’s a suburban, middle-class school. The two major causes of death? 1. drug overdoses due to the opioid crisis and 2. suicide.
More than 70,000 Americans died from drug overdoses in 2017 (the most recent year with data available from the National Institute on Drug Abuse). This is double the rate from a decade earlier.
Add these escalating numbers to the second cause of death: Suicide. One of the members of this 2011 high school class suffered the sudden loss of his dad by suicide and then took his own life a few days later.
Suicide is now the leading cause of death in the United States, says the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The suicide rates have increased in 49 of the 50 states in a 17-year period. Rates jumped by 58% in North Dakota. In Vermont, they increased by 49%.
When will we start talking about these losses? When will we start addressing the issues that are leading to these early deaths?
The time is now.