They’re called deaths of despair, and they’re the reason that, for the first time since the last World War, life expectancy in the United States is falling. That hasn’t quite happened in Canada yet, but in many parts of the country it has stagnated, and in some places it’s dropping right now. The warning light is blinking. A continually rising life expectancy has been a hallmark of developed countries for decades—so these are troubling trends.
We knew life expectancy couldn’t go up forever, but why are they slowing before they’re close to the maximum seen in other places in the world? What’s causing so many people to die earlier here and what can be done to save them? Is this a matter of a fix to a couple of government policies, or an improved safety net and medical access… or is it that heartbreaking result of decades of desperation finally showing up on the stat sheet? And if it is the latter, how can we start turning back that tide?
GUEST: Dr. Jurgen Rehm, CAMH, University of Toronto