The death rate in the U.S. climbed in 2015 for the first time in a decade, The New York Times reports, citing preliminary data from the National Center for Health Statistics. The increase was “driven in part by more people dying from drug overdoses, suicide and Alzheimer’s disease,” the report notes.
Additionally, the death rate from heart disease, which has been declining, edged up slightly.
“While recent research has documented sharp rises in death rates among certain groups — in particular less educated whites, who have been hardest hit by the prescription drug epidemic — increases for the entire population are relatively rare,” The Times notes.
The report adds: “Federal researchers cautioned that it was too early to tell whether the rising mortality among whites had pushed up the overall national death rate. (Preliminary data is not broken down by race, and final data will not be out until later this year.) But they said the rise was real, and while it is premature to ring an alarm now, if it continues, it could be a signal of distress in the health of the nation.”