In a data analysis, the New York Times has discovered that young whites (aged 25-34) are dying from drug overdoses at an alarming rate—five times the rate of 1999.
This statistic, coupled with decreasing black young adult death rates, has worked to shrink the once enormous difference between black and white death rates by two-thirds.
The NYT analyzed 60 million death certificates from the CDC, spanning from 1999-2014. The troubling result is that young adult whites are the first group post-Vietnam to have higher death rates in early adulthood than the generation before it.
While both suicide and drug overdose rates have increased significantly, it is drug overdoses that have contributed most significantly to the change:
“For young non-Hispanic whites, the death rate from accidental poisoning — which is mostly drug overdoses — rose to 30 per 100,000 from six over the years 1999 to 2014, and the suicide rate rose to 19.5 per 100,000 from 15, the Times analysis found.”
According to the NYT, “no one has a clear answer” as to the cause of this phenomenon, but there’s speculation that a number of factors could be at play: loneliness, anomie, economic struggles, stress, and cheap access to heroin and prescription drugs.
Welcome to our Brave New World.