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'Deaths of despair' rose in Ohio in last 10 years, according to study

Jill Taylor
Posted at 1:50 PM, Oct 13, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-13 13:50:35-04

CLEVELAND — A new report by the Ohio Alliance for Innovation in Population Health reveals that drug overdoses, suicides and alcohol-related liver disease, or "deaths of despair," rose in Ohio over the last decade, taking 1.9 million years of life.

From 2010 through 2019, so-called “diseases of despair” killed 53,632 people in the state.

“Our world is changing so rapidly and demanding so much from people that some people just can’t do it,” said Rick Hodges, director of the Ohio Alliance for Innovation in Population Health, to the Canton Repository. “It’s not weakness, it’s not a lack of character. It’s just the daily struggle for survival and we need to treat it as something that’s part of the environment and not part of the individual.”

During the 10-year period, fatalities due to unintentional overdoses increased by 163.4%, fatalities due to alcohol-related liver disease increased by 39.6% and fatalities due to suicide increased by 27%.

Other key findings from the report:

  • The Appalachian region demonstrated the highest rate of deaths for diseases of despair per 100,000 population.
  • Persons 30 to 39 experienced the greatest increase in deaths by diseases of despair.
  • More women were robbed of years of life than men

Diseases of despair ranked sixth in total fatalities, after heart failure, cancer, unspecified infections, chronic lower respiratory disease and cerebrovascular disease, according to the report that analyzed the Ohio Department of Health data.

Read the full report: Ohio Deaths of Despair.

Based at Ohio University, the Ohio Alliance for Innovation in Population Health is comprised of over 30 affiliated universities, hospital associations and healthcare providers from across the state.