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Deaths of Despair

  • 'Deaths of Despair' in Pennsylvania, Led by Opioid Fatalities, Double in 10 Years  Philadelphia Inquirer by Sarah Gantz — Deaths from suicide, alcohol, and drug use doubled over a 10-year period in Pennsylvania, driven by historically high levels of opioid overdose deaths, according to a new report by the Commonwealth Fund. In New Jersey, the rate of these deaths is also climbing rapidly, yet the number of deaths per capita still remains below the national average. Pennsylvania ranked 24th in overall health in the 2018 Scorecard on State Health System Performance, which evaluates states based on an analysis of dozens of health indicators. The state received high marks for access to care, employer contributions to insurance plans and preventive care for children, but suicide, drug and alcohol deaths ranked 45th among all states, dragging down Pennsylvania’s overall score. Drug, alcohol, and suicide deaths, sometimes called "deaths of despair," are on the rise nationally, increasing by 50 percent between 2005 and 2016. But they’ve risen more rapidly in Pennsylvania — by 96 percent over the same time period — and in New Jersey, with a 68 percent increase.

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