White, Female … And Dying Sooner

Middle-aged white women in America are dying sooner than they used to, the Washington Post reports, and the Northland mostly fits that pattern.pills

Post reporters Dan Keating, Kennedy Elliott and Leslie Shapiro used the phrase “staggeringly higher rates” in a blog posted Aug. 31, and cited drug overdoses, suicides and excessive drinking as major factors in the increase. You can see their post here.

If you open their post, a box will pop up asking permission to localize. Your call on that, but if you agree, the Post’s post suddenly will be about St. Louis County, or whatever county you happen to be in at the time. If you don’t want to go that route, you can go to a dropbox at the bottom and choose to look at any county you wish to look at.

It’s impressive.

It shows an increase in the death rate for white women in St. Louis County of 24 percent from 1999-2014. The surrounding Minnesota counties have similar numbers except for Itasca County, which shows a 99 percent jump. Douglas County, Wis., defies the trend, with an 11 percent drop in the death rate for white women from 1999-2014. Over the same period of time, the death rate for white men in St. Louis County has barely moved.

Nationally, the Post reports, middle-aged white men and women are dying at increased rates in rural areas and smaller cities, which would include all of the Northland. At the same time, middle-aged African Americans, Hispanics and whites in the largest cities are dying prematurely at a slower rate.

The Post used Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data for its number-crunching. In an accompanying story, its reporters point to a combination of opioid pain pills and anti-anxiety medication as a particularly significant part of the problem. Add alcohol, and the combination becomes even more deadly. White women are more likely to be prescribed opiates than women of other races, and are much more likely to be prescribed both forms of medication than women of other races, the Post reports.


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