By Bob Smietana
Americans are less likely take their own lives, drink themselves to death, or die at the hands of another person than they were in the 1980s.
They’re also most likely to take a fatal overdose of drugs compared to then.
Deaths from overdose grew by 618.3 percent from 1980 to 2014, according to a new study from the Journal of the American Medical Association.
Researchers looked at 2.9 million deaths during that time period—in every county in America—from four causes: drug overdose, alcohol abuse, self-harm, and interpersonal violence.
Violent deaths dropped 44.9 percent, while deaths from self-harm (6 percent drop), alcohol use (8 percent) also declined.
Those declines were overshadowed by fatal drug overdoses—which increased everywhere.
“Mortality rates due to drug use disorders increased in every county, while mortality rates due to alcohol use disorders, self-harm, and interpersonal violence increased in some counties and decreased in others,” according to researchers.
Researchers also charted how every county was affected by each of the four causes of death in 2014.
Deaths from alcohol were most common in Alaska and in the Southwest, in the regions where Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona, and Utah all intersect.
There are also prominent clusters of counties with high deaths from alcohol abuse in Nevada, North and South Dakota, and Montana.
Deaths from drug overdose were most common in eastern Kentucky and West Virginia, along the Appalachians. New Mexico, Tennessee, and Mississippi also had hot spots of drug-related deaths.
Deaths from self-harm were most common in Alaska and throughout the western United States. Nevada, New Mexico, Utah, Wyoming, North and South Dakota, and Montana are among the states with counties where deaths from self-harm are high.
Deaths from interpersonal violence were most common in Alaska and well as the South. Alabama, Mississippi, and Arkansas also had hot spots of violent deaths, as did North Carolina, Michigan, Montana, and South Dakota.
BOB SMIETANA (@bobsmietana) is senior writer for Facts & Trends.