UCLA Study Reveals Black Americans are More Likely to Die from “Deaths of Despair” Than White Americans

A new study from University of California, Los Angeles Health has found middle-aged Black Americans are more likely to die from “deaths of despair” than White Americans of a similar age. The study defines “deaths of despair” as those who occur from underlining mental health issues, such as drug and alcohol related deaths and suicides.

For their research, the study authors examined mortality data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention from 1999-2022. Across all racial groups, deaths of despair have escalated over the past two decades. White Americans deaths of despair increased from 72.2 per 100,000 people in 2013 to 102.6 per 100,000 people in 2022. In this same time period, Black Americans deaths of despair mortality rate tripled. In 2013, Black Americans were significantly less likely than White Americans to die from deaths of despair with a rate of 36.2 per 100,000 people. In 2022, Black Americans mortality rate from deaths of despair surpassed White Americans with a rate of 103.8 per 100,000 people. The authors noticed a particularly large increase in this mortality rate for African Americans starting in 2015.

The research team believes their findings may be attributed to racial disparities in American healthcare, social services, and financial security, as well as the lingering hardships brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. In order to reduce the racial disparities in mental health care, the study authors encourage policy makers to implement culturally-sensitive interventions that can increase access to mental health and substance abuse treatment among Black Americans and other historically underrepresented populations.

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