ALARMING

Overdose Deaths Drag Down U.S. Life Expectancy for Second Consecutive Year

U.S. life-expectancy rates fell in 2016 for the second year in a row due to overdose deaths, the first consecutive-year decline since 1962-63. According to data released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a 21 percent surge in deaths from drug overdoses was the main factor in pushing life expectancy down to 78.6 years in 2016. While the drop from 78.7 and 78.9 in the previous two years may not appear especially drastic, experts say it should be a wakeup call. “This whole decrease in life expectancy can be put clearly at the foot of the opioid epidemic,” Brenda Fitzgerald, director of the CDC, told The Wall Street Journal. “We need, as a country, to have a really thoughtful all-out effort to eliminate this problem.”