A report in the news today says that life expectancy in the United States is dropping. Back in a previous generation, I used to sell life insurance. In the early 80’s the cost per thousand for life insurance was adjusted dramatically for term insurance policies to account for the longer life expectancy of Americans.

Consider this, in the time of Jesus, the average life expectancy was 30 to 35 years of age. That’s was it! By the 1920’s in America, the average life lasted almost 59 years. By 2007 we were up to 79.3 and on the very edge of hitting 80. But something changed and we’ve been on the decline ever since. Today, the number for 2017 has us at 78.6.

The answer for the drop is drug overdose deaths according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Actually, they call it “unintentional injuries” which includes drug overdose as well as suicides, but also things like diabetes and flu and pneumonia. I have never considered the flu as an “unintentional injury.” Still, there is no question that an alarming increase in deaths occurs from people overdosing on drugs and sadly, the suicide rate in the U.S. is up 4 percent.

The good news here, is if you are not an opioid abuser and maintain good mental health, the change in life expectancy doesn’t apply to you.

Actually, the number a person can expect to live has always been a little misleading. The mortality of infants has been the greatest factor in the increase in our life expectancy. When babies were born on the range the number of deaths at birth or within the first 6 months was off the roof compared to today. For every man that lived to be 100, a baby dying at birth cut the average of the 2 to 50. See how that can be misleading?

Regardless, visiting this topic always reminds me that life is short and every time I do, there is less of it than it was before.