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- More millennials are dying "deaths of despair" — deaths related to drugs, alcohol, and suicide, reported Jamie Ducharme for TIME, citing a new report.
- There are several reasons behind the increase, including financial burdens specific to the millennial generation — like student loan debt and the housing market, according to the report.
- The affordability crisis millennials are dealing with is impacting their mental health in a time when they lack social support.
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"Deaths of despair" are increasing among young Americans.
These deaths — related to drugs, alcohol, or suicide — claimed the lives of 36,000 American millennials in 2017 alone. Drug overdoses are the most common cause of death.
That’s according to Jamie Ducharme for TIME, citing a report by public-health groups Trust for America’s Health and Well Being Trust. The report looked at millennials ages 23 to 38 in 2019 using the most recent data available from the CDC.
Deaths of despair have increased across all ages in the past 10 years, but more so among younger Americans, reported Ducharme.
From 2007 to 2017, adults ages 18 to 34 saw a 69% increase in alcohol-related deaths; 108% increase in drug-related deaths — largely fueled by the opioid crisis; and a 35% increase in death by suicide.
The report cites a few reasons behind these upticks — young adults are more inclined to engage in risk-taking behaviors, comprise the highest number of enrolled military personnel, and disproportionately live in "high-stress environments" like correctional facilities.
But there are other structural factors at play, according to the report, namely the myriad financial problems millennials are facing: student loan debt, healthcare, childcare, and an expensive housing market. These four costs are part of The Great American Affordability Crisis plaguing millennials that’s putting them financially behind.
The affordability crisis is affecting millennials’ mental health
Financial burdens and lack of social support may explain why depression is on the rise among millennials. They’ve seen a 47% increase in major depression since 2013, according to a Blue Cross Blue Shield report. However, one in five don’t seek treatment — likely because they can’t afford it.
Studies have found a correlation between indebted people and mental health problems. While this research, by its nature, can’t identify causality, the likelihood of having a mental health disorder is three times high among those unsecured debt, according to a meta-analysis, or study of studies, in the Clinical Psychology Review. People who have completed suicide are eight times more likely.
Millennials don’t always have someone to share the mental burden of this with — they’re less likely to have social support than other generations, as they’re marrying later and are less connected to political or religious communities, according to Ducharme’s reporting.
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