U.S. experienced highest ever combined death rates during COVID-19 pandemic: report

By Xia Lin

NEW YORK, May 25 (Xinhua) -- Deaths associated with alcohol, drugs, and suicide took the lives of 186,763 Americans in 2020, a 20 percent one year increase in the combined death rate and the highest number of substance misuse deaths ever recorded for a single year, according to Trust for America's Health (TFAH) on Tuesday.

"While alcohol, drug, and suicide deaths have been increasing for decades, the 2020 increase was unprecedented and driven by a 30 percent increase in the rate of drug-induced deaths and a 27 percent increase in the rate of alcohol-induced deaths," said the non-profit, non-partisan health policy advocacy organization.

Combined rates of alcohol, drug, and suicide deaths increased in all 50 states except New Hampshire, and for the first time two states - West Virginia and New Mexico - surpassed 100 deaths per 100,000 state residents from alcohol, drugs, and suicide combined in a single year.

"With the trends continuing to go in the wrong direction we must ask ourselves, what will it take to move to robust and comprehensive action? The story behind these data is beyond devastating and heartbreaking to those families who have suffered loss," said Benjamin F. Miller, president of Well Being Trust, co-sponsor of the data report.

TFAH and Well Being Trust have been reporting alcohol-induced, drug-induced and suicide deaths as part of their Pain in the Nation initiative since 2017. In the initiative's inaugural 2017 report, alcohol, drug and suicide deaths accounted for 55,403 deaths per year, as compared to the 186,763 deaths associated with alcohol, drugs or suicide in this year's report.

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