In the past week, reports shared by news outlets like the Boston Globe, USA Today and MSN are supporting the claims that suicide and drug overdoses have become so much of an epidemic that they have lowered the countries life expectancy by 1% – further ruining the countries life expectancy average for the third year in a row since the peak of the AIDS epidemic in 1993. The problem however is that this is not the cry for help, but rather the result of a child left crying in its crib with no parent in sight.
With bullying rates growing rapidly in the past decade, an increase of suicide in young children and adults was not far behind – in fact, I must be seeing at least three obituaries a week these days. and similarly, drugs, which have become more accessible have pushed the public past a threshold to the point where it is currently and continually effecting the average house hold but until now, until the 1% was knocked off the top of our nationally recognized number, we barely touched the issue.
To put this into perspective in 1789, when the United States constitution became active, it promised life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness – baring some beliefs on civil liberties, and egregious mistakes made by certain administrations since then, life became the most important promise our mothers and forefathers could have bestowed upon us – but 224 years later, despite advancements in fields like technology and health, not to mention the growing acknowledgement of mental illness as a national issue the worst time to be born into the Modern United States is right now.
And why is that you may ask – well because unlike the three waves of Cholera that hit the country between 1832-1866, or the “Spanish Flu,” which claimed the lives of 1 million Americans in 1918 following the end of the first world war – this epidemic is not derived from a bacteria that can be cured but rather stems from either a mental illness that affects 18.1% of the population per year (depression) or an illness that affects 23.5 million people (drug or alcohol addition) per year – and keep in mind these are only the reported cases. So who knows how many more go un-noticed and un-treated.
So for me the real question is – why now? Why are we finally reporting on something, why are we finally talking about this across every news outlet in the country – when this issue has been growing for fifty years? (MSN) Well, I guess it just speaks to the fact that everything is more interesting when you consider the top 1% – even if that percentage is something that has been sacrificed from a national life expectancy.