Deaths of Despair Now Significant Among the Young

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We first wrote about what came to be called about deaths of despair when the landmark work by Angus Deaton, the 2015 Nobel prize winner in economics, and his wife Anne Case, on the dramatic rise in the death rate of middle-aged, less educated whites. Even though this study and a follow-on did garner a great deal of major media attention, there was almost nothing in the way of action to try to alleviate this crisis.

The cancer of inaction seems to be working its way through its host, as in the US. The Wall Street Journal reports tonight Young Americans Are Dying at Alarming Rates, Reversing Years of Progress. You’ll see many of the causes parallel those of lamented but not acted upon deaths of despair. And as you’ll also see. both tragedies are acute in the US, not so much in other advanced economies.

For a refresher, from our first post in 2015 on Case-Deaton findings:

The authors found that from 1999 to 2013, the death rate among non-Hispanic whites aged 45 to 54 with a high school education or less rose, while it fell in other age and ethnic groups. This is an HIV-level silent epidemic: AIDS killed an estimated 650,000 from the mid-1980s to present, while an estimated close to half-million died in half that time period who would have lived had their mortality rates fallen in line with the rest of the population. It is hard to overstate the significance of these findings. From the New York Times:

“It is difficult to find modern settings with survival losses of this magnitude,” wrote two Dartmouth economists, Ellen Meara and Jonathan S. Skinner, in a commentary to the Deaton-Case analysis that was published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

This cross-country comparison from the study shows how extreme an outlier these middle aged whites are:

Screen shot 2015-11-03 at 6.01.10 AM

The big culprits are linked to despair, namely “poisoning” which is opioid abuse first and alcoholism second, and suicides. Case and Deaton dug into the underlying statistics, and found distressingly high levels of pain and impaired health in this age group, so pain and physical impairment may well be bigger culprits than economic distress:

Screen shot 2015-11-03 at 6.08.18 AM

And the rise in death rates took place among men and women, in all of the four major regions of the country the authors examined, and obesity rates were not a driving factor.

And unlike chaotic post-Soviet Russia, the US does not have a good excuse as to why this has been happening in a period of supposed growth, and even worse, with no one noticing until now. Yes, there have been warning signs of distress, such as the fact that US life expectancy has stopped rising, that death rates among white women had risen (and over the same time period examined in the Case-Deaton study), and that the US is alone among developed countries in having an increasing maternal mortality rate. And even though the chattering classes may not have been aware of the rise in the death rate of whites, it had been troubling researchers for some time.

Now to the current post. The Journal describes an epidemic of early deaths, with drug overdoses, suicides, accidents (some of which could have been suicides) and gun deaths. The article fingers the lockdowns and remote schooling as a major cause, but ignores the other effects of Covid on mental health, like increased parental anxiety, particularly about what might happen to their job; coping with lockdown shortages (toilet paper, baby formula, some medications and as I recall, even pet food); concern about getting sick; worries about Covid-afflicted relatives, particularly the elderly; grieving for the dead, and potentially cognitive and mood effects from getting Covid, particularly long Covid. Similarly, there’s no mention about angst about the future of the planet, which not surprisingly hang heavy on many young people.

And it predictably fails to mention a big driver of deteriorating social health indicators: high levels of inequality. As we’ve written from the inception of this site, unequal societies are unhappy and unhealthy societies. High levels of inequality exact a longevity cost, even among the rich.

But even with those shortcomings, the Journal article gives a sense of how many young people in the US are showing signs of mental illness and even when they are getting help, are also taking matters into their own hands. From the Journal account:

Between 2019 and 2020, the overall mortality rate for ages 1 to 19 rose by 10.7%, and increased by an additional 8.3% the following year, according to an analysis of federal death statistics led by Steven Woolf, director emeritus of the Center on Society and Health at Virginia Commonwealth University, published in JAMA in March. That’s the highest increase for two consecutive years in the half-century that the government has publicly tracked such figures, according to Woolf’s analysis.

Other developed countries including the United Kingdom, Germany, Canada and Norway also saw a rise in some death counts among young people during that time, though the upticks were often concentrated in narrow age groups or one gender, according to global death counts provided by Christopher J.L. Murray, director of the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington.

The U.S. is the only place among peer nations where firearms are the No. 1 cause of death in young people.

Suicides among Americans age 10 to 19 began increasing in 2007, while homicide rates for that age group started climbing in 2013, according to the research in JAMA by Woolf and co-authors Elizabeth Wolf of Virginia Commonwealth and Frederick Rivara of the University of Washington.

The increases in suicides and homicides among young people went largely unnoticed at first because overall child and adolescent mortality rates still declined most years…

When the pandemic started, deaths of young people due to suicide and homicide climbed higher. Deaths caused by drug overdoses and transportation fatalities—mainly motor-vehicle accidents—rose significantly, too.

Covid, which surged to America’s No. 3 cause of death during the pandemic, accounted for just one-tenth of the rise in mortality among young people in 2020, and one-fifth of it in 2021, according to the research led by Woolf, which uses data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The article presents tragic vignettes: a 11 year old boy, formerly happy and active, who became morose and anxious when deprived of sports and structure. His parents found he was taking marijuana, and got him on anti-depression medication and starting controlling his social media use. When he was staring the school year at 14, he seemed to have turned the corner. But his mother found him dead of a fentanyl overdose one morning.

The pandemic appears to have poured gas on a mental health crisis among the young. Back to the Journal:

Older children and teenagers, ages 10 to 19, accounted for most of the increase in death rates for young people…

Physicians and public-health researchers say that school closures, canceled sports and youth activities and limitations on in-person socializing all worsened a burgeoning mental-health epidemic among young people in the U.S. Social media, they say, has helped fuel it by replacing successful relationships with a craving for online social attention that leaves young people unfulfilled, and exposes them to sites that glamorize unhealthy behaviors such as eating disorders and cutting themselves.

Demand for psychiatric services, counseling and other behavioral health supports far outstripped supply, leaving young patients to turn to emergency departments that were strained by the crush of Covid.

And guns play a significant role:

In 2020, life expectancy fell 1.8 years, the largest decline since at least World War II, not just because of Covid but also because of increased mortality from unintentional injuries, including drug overdoses, as well as homicides.

Researchers point to the fact that gun ownership increased during the pandemic, and that high-profile acts of police violence, including the murder of George Floyd, heightened distrust of law enforcement. That prompted some people to resort to deadly forms of “street justice” instead of calling the police, said Daniel Webster, a public-health professor at Johns Hopkins University who researches gun violence and prevention.

Bear in mind that more still die from gun suicide than gun homicide.

Driving deaths were also up despite a drop in miles driven. Researchers attributed that to driving while impaired, distracted by devices, and fewer cars leading to more dangerous habits.

The article poses no solutions save hinting that more access to mental health services could help. Consistent, with that, it’s distressing to see the sense of resignation, as if this is just another part of the new normal that we have to accept.

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  1. .Tom

    The tragic vignette you quoted, Yves, makes me wonder if we should consider increased use of prescription psycho-pharma as a factor. SSRIs, for example, are addictive, unsafe and make some people feel worse.

    1. digi_owl

      Because if i am reading it right they affect the surface mood, not the underlying cause for the mood.

      Never mind that serotonin, the hormone they manipulate, is used for a thousand and one jobs in the brain.

      1. playon

        The more responsible physicians and therapists recommend SSRIs in tandem with cognitive therapy.

      2. Rob

        SSRIs have gotten an undeservedly bad reputation as a result of some poorly designed studies and meta-analyses that have been publicized in the mass media. Meanwhile, scientists have been able to demonstrate that SSRIs do more than simply raise serotonin levels in the brain. They also promote the regeneration of key neurons that have atrophied in the brains of persons suffering from chronic depression. In other words, the drugs produce anatomical changes that restore function in atrophic areas of the brain that are highly associated with depression. They are not a panacea and may be prescribed inappropriately in some cases, but SSRIs are effective for most depressed patients and are generally well tolerated.

        1. Rui

          What Rob said.
          The resistance to getting help for mental health issues and the myths around medication are a problem.

    2. ArvidMartensen

      Dr Peter Gotzsche, one of the founding researchers of Cochrane, thinks we are mistreating children with pharmaceutical drugs:

      After penicillin was available, the deaths from infections plummeted.
      After the diptheria vaccine was available, the deaths from diptheria plummeted.
      After polio vaccines were available, the deaths from polio plummeted.

      After SSRIs were available, the incidence of depression continued to rise.

      1. Dorfenheimer

        I’m not saying you’re necessarily wrong, but it doesn’t necessarily follow that mental illness will follow the same trajectory as physical illness (even with effective treatments).

        We have better cancer treatments than ever but are people less likely to actually get cancer?

        My gut instinct is that SSRIs are overprescribed and it does seem disturbing that so many people take these meds for prolonged periods. But, I think your comparison is flawed.

  2. Robert Hahl

    A lot of homeless people seem younger now, and give me the feeling that they don’t expect to live very long. Is living rough ever listed as a cause of death? It obviously is.

      1. synoia

        And in 1947 the Attlee Government started a program of housing to eliminate tramps (The homeless) and succeeded by the mid ’50 or so.

        There is no excuse for this reversion, except Thatcher and then Blare labor.

        I feel guilty at the obvious greed of the “Great Generation, and its following generation , of which I am one, the Baby Boomers. I believe I will not depart the earth leaving it a better place, which I believed possible in my youth.

        I must thank Regan and Thatcher, and their funders and hangers on for their success in instigating what appeared as hope after WW II, by replacing civic responsibility with to Greed.

        The US is the wealthiest country in the world, and it will not house it’s people. Housing should be a public good, not a trophy..

        1. Pelham

          You shouldn’t necessarily feel guilty. I’m a 70-year-old American and here, in this splendid paragon of democracy, I haven’t been able to vote even once for any candidate at the federal or state level that I believed had the remotest intention of trying to make things better for the country or for people like me.

          Now we’re heading into an election with the same worn-out, tragically and fatally discredited themes we’ve been subjected to for endless decades, with likely top-of-the-ticket presidential candidates that solid majorities of voters hope will somehow just disappear — although all their likely permitted replacements offer nothing better.

          Stepping back for a moment, I also realize that all through my life I have known plenty of people — friends and colleagues (though not all) — whom I trusted implicitly and wouldn’t hesitate to vote into high office if I only had the opportunity. There is no lack of capable, ethical, moral and generously goodhearted people in the US who would work their hearts out to serve the public well if allowed the chance. The problem appears to be that our entire political system is rigged to utterly and forever exclude any possibility of such people holding any office of consequence.

          This morbid situation is not a generational thing. It’s structural, class-based and so murky and pervasive that no individual person could hope to make the tiniest chink in its armor. “No matter how, a man alone ain’t got no bloody f—ing chance.”

          1. Rolf


            There is no lack of capable, ethical, moral and generously goodhearted people in the US who would work their hearts out to serve the public well if allowed the chance. The problem appears to be that our entire political system is rigged to utterly and forever exclude any possibility of such people holding any office of consequence.

            This observation has resonated with me since middle age and only increased in prominence thereafter: despite all the wonderful, hard working, kind, humane Americans I have known, a sampling of the greatness we have to offer as a diverse country, … what instead our system admits as candidates for highest office are not just mediocre, but completely venal, self-serving. Some are indeed the worst of the worst.

            Our political “system” is utterly broken, at least at the national level. And the radical, root-and-branch reforms so obviously necessary, including removal of money, particularly the disease of dark money, are apparently never going to happen, because the few that control our listing and sinking vessel of state are fat and happy with its present course and condition. And so: millions of ordinary Americans continue to suffer desperately, and die well before their time.

            This, this national tragedy, is obvious to any outside onlooker. But then Joe Biden tweets, “America is back!”, “COVID is over!”, and he’s “never been as optimistic about our nation as he is right now”. The wilful ignorance, the arrogance, is breathtaking.

            [Family blog]!

    1. JonnyJames

      The housing market is so dysfunctional and perverse that more and more working people can’t afford the rent/mortgage. Many houseless folks live in their vehicles, or if they are lucky they “couch surf” at friends and families. These are the working, “hidden” homeless. This is especially true here in California

      1. Mildred Montana

        It’s true almost everywhere, and getting worse. I walk the streets of my Canadian city in the wee hours of the morning and the numbers sleeping in doorways, tents, or improvised shelters are large and seemingly getting larger. And this in a city with comparatively good social supports. I can only imagine what hells exist elsewhere.

        I’ve said this before, I’ll say it again: Blame central banks and their fifteen years of ZIRP. They saved the housing market but, more to the point, its mortgagors the banks. The *only* collateral damage was a generation or two of young people who have been getting 0% interest on their down-payment savings forever and will probably never be able to afford a house at the prices inflated to an insane level by central banks’ policies.

        A question for the Fed: How do you reconcile the profits of homeowners, landlords, and banks with the losses of those mostly young people who have been shut out of the housing market, paying $2000 a month in rent for a one-bedroom apartment, or living in a tent or car? The profits are easy to measure. But how do you calculate the price of the economic destruction of an entire generation or two?

        1. jrkrideau

          Personally I blame Steven Harper, plus if you live in Ontario, the earlier vicious legacy of Mike Harris. Dougie is currently carrying on the tradition.

          See Common Sense Revolution

          It looks as if the Harris Gov’t spooked the Liberals enough that the did not restore welfare funding though we may be seeing more drug epidemic deaths as well.

        2. tevhatch

          The platform “Strong Towns” gives a lot of credit to the local oligarchy, i.e. the real estate cartel which run the ponzi scheme known as the suburbs, which feed off bankrupting cities.

        3. Roland

          In Canada, the capital gains tax exemption for the principal residence was another factor in housing price inflation.

    2. Pholosophy

      It all traces back to what Americans call “food”, processed garbage produced and sold in packaging and corporate “dining establishments” that so heavy process “food” that you literally cannot biologically identify it any longer (the real story behind the “Is tuna sold by Subway actually tuna?”), making up the majority or what is eaten. We have become a nation of obese malnourished people and no nourishment to the body means no nourishment of the brain as well. Americans are literally dying from this reality. And the idiots running things are worried about Co2! Fricken Clown World for sure.

      There is no turning back. The food/pharma/military industrial complexes own our “legislators” and have for nearly 1/2 century rigged the system in their favor. America as a nation is a write-off. Only a swift removal of all those old corrupt idiots in power and a break-up of the corporate power structure in addition to reversing the free for all unlimited money in our political machine will give America any chance.

  3. Xavier

    Emmanuel Todd predicted the collapse of the Soviet Union based on the fact that child mortality rate was increasing. Things are going terribly wrong in the US.

    1. Jokerstein

      In 1990 I was working with a dissident Russian who had managed to get out from the USSR a few years previously. Although a low-temp physics expert, the authorities had forced him into a job as a grave digger in a Leningrad cemetery, He told me that at one point, child burials were starting to be grouped together in a separate area of the cemetery. Until it became clear just how many kids were dying…

    2. vao

      Young Americans Are Dying at Alarming Rates, Reversing Years of Progress

      How does this fit with “everything is going according to plan“?

  4. LadyXoc

    Again I see a prescription for individual action (more mental health services aka prescription drugs) for a disease that has its roots in the society at large (requiring society-wide remediation). These kids (and generations older than them) see the depthless cynicism of the “leadership class” and know that there is no future for them here in the USA. They lived through school shootings, terrible deprivation (1 in 4 children in US lives below poverty level), their parents’ house being foreclosed on, and a bleak future of McJobs, where you work 39 1/2 hours with a changing schedule and no benefits, deaths of loved ones from Covid, etc. No wonder they are in despair. Yes, an unequal society affects all in deleterious ways.

  5. DorothyT

    … Now to the current post. The Journal describes an epidemic of early deaths, with drug overdoses, suicides, accidents (some of which could have been suicides) and gun deaths. The article fingers the lockdowns and remote schooling as a major cause, but ignores the other effects of Covid on mental health …

    And it predictably fails to mention a big driver of deteriorating social health indicators: high levels of inequality. As we’ve written from the inception of this site, unequal societies are unhappy and unhealthy societies. High levels of inequality exact a longevity cost, even among the rich.

    A noted observation by Yves. This ties in with the many columns on PE/private equity found on NC — an undeniable cause of the widening space between rich and poor in America. How fulfilling are the jobs available even to those with pricy educations? A nice paycheck or a rich family can’t sustain a rewarding life.

    1. Michael Fiorillo

      Expect #McResistance media to, with barely hidden glee, point to the geographical overlap between these stats and voting patterns.

      1. hk

        I would have to assume that that is precisely why the people on the wrong end of the mortality ball are against #McResistance.

        On a related note, I always wondered about the linkage between the pro-Eugenics crowd and modern day “progressives,” as a particular target of the Eugenics movement (among others) were “unworthy whites” in pretty much the same areas where “deplorables” are concentrated in–the Appalachians, in particular. The examples of the “bad genes” that the eugenicists loved to throw about tended to be of the rednecks.

        (This is where I get curious about numbers. Recent studies of forced sterilization like to claim that they were heavily targeted at minorities, but the timing seems a bit off–Buck vs Bell was back in 1927, sterilization program explicitly tied to eugenics movement was fairly early (explicit ties were gone by the time World War 2 was over). The numbers these studies show are largely from 1950s and beyond (and given the way race was tracked in earlier half of 20th century, identifying “Latinos” would have been difficult for that period, I’d have thought).)

    2. JonnyJames

      Good point, the data I have seen is undeniable. Socioeconomic inequality, health, acts of despair and average life expectancy are closely linked. British social epidemiologist Richard Wilkinson, among others, has written and researched this extensively. I have a couple of his books on my shelf.

      No doubt PE is a contributing factor, but it is much more than just that.

      1. digi_owl

        Reminds me that the NHS came about thanks to a study on how to forestall a revolution in UK during WW2.

    3. mrsyk

      Just another example of the MSM’s practice of ignoring any theories of causality that don’t align with their sponsors’ interests.

  6. Fazal Majid

    I wonder how evenly distributed this phenomenon is, in relation to Chris Hedges’ concept of sacrifice zones. Another leading indicator of this kind of collapse is a falling birth rate.

    1. JonnyJames

      Yes, but many countries (South Korea, Japan, Spain, Italy etc.) have lower birthrates than the US. Hedges’ “sacrifice zones” are becoming more widespread.

  7. Aleric

    It reminds me of an 2020-era discussion about the lingering effects of coronaviruses that stuck with me. That among survivors of SARS with no diagnosed medical issue, there was still a 50% increase in suicide. Speculation about subtle brain or other organ damage being the cause, didn’t seem like it was being investigated. Perhaps something similiar from covid-19. Not to deny that prolonged isolation is also especially tough on young people.

  8. The Phoenix

    What do you think of Edward Dowd’s hypothesis regarding sudden (and excess) deaths, and the increased disability in 2021 – Present?

    I don’t think it explains the full increase but is a significant factor that is always and completely ignored by mainstream discourse.

    1. Sutter Cane

      I don’t understand how covid vaccination would be considered more likely to be responsible than actual covid infections. I don’t find Dowd credible.

  9. JonnyJames

    “…The article poses no solutions…”

    Of course not, the solutions would threaten entrenched interests.

    From what I see, the decline in average life expectancy started before the pandemic. As some experts warned about total lockdowns and social isolation: public health should be viewed more comprehensively. Unlike other countries whose life expectancy averages have recovered, the US continues to decline. Unless something revolutionary happens, it is going to get worse.

    I recently got my copy of The Collapse of Antiquity (Michael Hudson). Reading this will give insights into the Decline And Fall of the US Empire.

  10. Jason Boxman

    When the pandemic started, deaths of young people due to suicide and homicide climbed higher. Deaths caused by drug overdoses and transportation fatalities—mainly motor-vehicle accidents—rose significantly, too.

    Out here, a high school? girl was killed this year, thrown out of a truck during the day driving around the lake, where the speed limit is like 15 mph; Driver clearly wasn’t paying attention, looks like she was thrown clear down to where the half drained lake bed is. Quite a distance. There’s a permanent makeshift memorial to her there I see whenever I walk around the lake; not what you’d expect to see.

    There was a group of high schoolers fishing yesterday, not sure what they were talking about, but one’s response was “you should blown your brains out”. Not an argument, just young adults bantering.

    Fun times.

    And out here, it’s likely some of those families do have guns.

    1. ambrit

      Something similar happened to the niece of one of our local panhandlers. She had just graduated from a two year college/apprenticeship program to be a phlebotomist. She died in a car crash going to a graduation party. The panhandler said that another relative told her quietly that drugs were involved in the crash. {The niece was not driving.}
      A shooting at a graduation party last week in Bay Saint Louis on the Gulf Coast killed several. The shooter was a recent graduate of the same school and was described as being incoherent when apprehended. So, some of these shootings can be classified as resulting from a general anomie that has gripped the younger population; something to despair of indeed.

  11. Louis Fyne

    As are countless reasons why this is the case, I’ll throw out one reason/hypothesis not generally discussed…

    the rise of of mega high schools of 3, 4, 5,000 kids spread among four grades in one school.

    Surely turning a 15 year old into an anonymous atom at school will exacerbate any underlying mental health/development issue?

    In my opinion, high schools should top out at 2,000 kids among the four grades. Not that smaller class sizes are a clique-less, class-less, in-group panacea, but smaller class sizes increases the odds that kids get the developmental attention that they may be missing out at home.

    Not holding my breath. Whether red state or blue state, lots of school districts love the >3,000 high school and it’s inordinately expensive to split one large school into two (then throw in parental arguments about new boundaries).

    If you have a teenager and are moving to a new neighborhood, do yourself a favor and avoid large high schools to the best that you can.

    1. redleg

      The problem with this is teacher pay. Big schools allows for fewer teachers and bigger classes. Even in districts (and states) where teachers are paid well, the class sizes are so big that teachers tend to burn out quickly. Private schools offer a better student:teacher ratio, but private schools pay teachers substantially less (in my spouse’s case, nearly 50%) than public schools. It’s like the budget for teacher compensation is $x per student, so more teachers just means lower pay and crappy or no benefits. And teacher pay is extravagant compared to the support staff- bus drivers, cooks, janitors, librarians, etc. that all contribute to operating a school (for the students). Now consider the neoliberal and reactionary politics that are standard these days and conditions don’t look like they are going to improve without an enormous social upheaval happening first.

      To summarize: until working conditions improve, smaller classes aren’t happening in the US.

  12. spud

    poor article. here is the main reasons why.

    free trade impoverished the working class and laid waste to our industrial capacity, public services, vital infrastructures, and local communities. Western nations became ever-more dependent on foreign states for the supply of everything from energy to food to basic medical supplies.

    free trade completely untethered capital from national democracy

    Many US manufacturers went out of business during this period, the shock wave from bill clintons free trade is called the deaths of despair.

    “hyper-globalization truly started with Bill Clinton in the ’90s. That’s when a series of trade deals, culminating in the entry of China into the World Trade Organization in 2001, took the guardrails off the global economy. “It’s amazing but true,” Foroohar writes, “that when it came to trade, Democrats in the ’90s were far less protectionist than the Republicans who came before them. Indeed, they supported the WTO rules that, by 2000, made it nearly impossible for countries to craft their own trade policies.”

    Many US manufacturers went out of business during this period. About 80 percent of the decline in private-economy employment between 2000 and 2003 can be traced to factory job losses related to what academics have called “the China shock”—the process by which a seemingly unlimited supply of low-wage Chinese workers became available to multinational corporations following that country’s entry into the WTO. Research shows that “job losses from rising Chinese import competition” between 1999 and 2011 were “in the range of 2 to 2.4 million.”

    1. Rolf

      Thanks for the link to Thomas Fasi’s review of Rana Foroohar’s Homecoming: The Path to Prosperity in a Post-Global World. His review is well worth reading, as he points out that the Biden administration’s reactionary de-globalization response is fundamentally animated by a desire to crush China (i.e., same old, same old), rather than a desire to actually improve the welfare of ordinary citizens in terms of local prosperity:

      Take Biden’s focus on boosting America’s chip-making capacity. While semiconductors may be strategically important in “out-competing” China, they aren’t particularly labor-intensive. Reshoring traditional manufacturing sectors would benefit US workers much more—but it’s not their needs that are driving policy. As the Harvard economist Dani Rodrik writes: “It is good that we are now moving away from [hyper-globalization], given how damaging it was to our social fabric. … Unfortunately, the great powers seem to have chosen a different, even worse path. They are now handing the keys to the global economy to their national-security establishments, jeopardizing both global peace and prosperity.”

  13. Lunker Walleye

    My 18 year-old great niece died of an overdose three weeks ago. Her step-mother and dad tossed her out of the house over a year ago and she was in and out of treatment a number of times. Her aunt took her in and now is truly suffering because the girl had just come out of treatment and had returned to her home right before she died. The girl’s own mother died tragically when the girl was 3-1/2. She was a bright and energetic girl when we saw her four years ago. I grieve for my sister (her grandmother) and the two nieces who watched over her while she was growing up. Mental illness and covid may have been contributors to her death. My great-niece joins my hair stylist’s nephew, my cousin’s grandson and a friend’s daughter in the afterlife. Here in flyover, there are many parents in their 60’s with addicted children.

  14. spud

    between 2000-2007, we lost almost 4 million high paying jobs, the trade deficit went through the roof, and we crashed in 2008

    free trade has been a disaster for americans, cutting short their lifespans, driving poverty, drug addiction and suicides

    The deplorable long for the sense of pur­pose that industrial labor brought, even as they stock shelves at Walmart, wait tables at Applebee’s, and try to persuade strangers to make donations from a cubicle at the local call center.13

    Economic nationalism, notes the left-leaning American Pros­pect, has gone “mainstream,” even though it was initially raised to prominence by former president Trump, with his often hyperbolic “America First” rhetoric.15

    “The most critical loss has been in manufacturing. Between 2000 and 2007 alone, the United States hemorrhaged 3.4 million jobs, about 20 percent of the sector’s total. It lost a further 1.5 million manufacturing jobs between 2007 and 2016.7 These rapid losses were unique in American history, and without parallel in other major Western coun­tries. Throughout the period between 2004 and 2017, the U.S. share of world manufacturing shrank from 15 to 10 percent, while our reliance on Chinese inputs doubled, even as our dependence on Japan and Germany shrank. The trade deficit with China, according to the Eco­nomic Policy Institute, cost as many as 3.7 million jobs since 2000.>8 ”

    “These shifts of production overseas may boost temporary profits but have proved a disaster for many communities, and ultimately many companies. Between 2000 and 2015, the death rate increased for middle-aged white Americans with a low educational level. Anne Case and Angus Deaton say this trend is attributable primarily to “deaths of despair”: suicides as well as deaths related to alcohol and drugs, includ­ing opioids, that are par­ticularly concentrated in deindustrialized communities.12John Russo and Sherry Linkon have described how the impact of deindustrialization on communities like Youngstown, Ohio, an old steelmaking center, undermines the sense of worth and optimism among residents, many of whom can recall better days:

    In places like Youngstown, many people still remember what life was like when employment was high, jobs paid well, workers were protected by strong unions, and industrial labor provided a source of pride—not only because it produced tangi­ble goods but also because it was recognized as challenging, dangerous, and important. The memory of what it felt like to transform raw ore into steel pipes and to be part of the connect­ed, prosperous community that work generated still haunts the children and grandchildren of those workers. They long for the sense of pur­pose that industrial labor brought, even as they stock shelves at Walmart, wait tables at Applebee’s, and try to persuade strangers to make donations from a cubicle at the local call center.13 ”

  15. Tommy S.

    Thanks so much for the revisit to 2015 and this. The ‘deaths’ have greatly affected me and many friends, especially in the music scene of people from the 1990’s to present. This is what I posted on FB, and with your posts I added a good Krystal and Saagar breaking points thing.. “What is seldom brought up, and maybe I should do a deep dive and submit an article to some site. is the devastation and heartbreak among the survivors of pre mature deaths. Lets tally early deaths from 2013 to 2023. And while we think about that, think of how many of these people were parents, or in the case of Covid, elder care givers (aunts, grannies etc) to kids, and brothers and sisters. In a population of less then 400 million people. Deaths of lack of Health Care in general: 80,000 a year x 10 years = 800.000 Overdose deaths young and old in ten years = 1 million. Covid deaths first two years =1 million. Excess deaths (much Covid, lack of care etc) 2020,2021 =1 million. So I have come up with 3.800.000 excess deaths, many young people, in just ten years. There are several reasons, this mass death is not being brought up by either political party.

  16. kareninca

    I go to Reddit Collapse (r/collapse) and read the posts under “Weekly Observations; what signs of collapse do you see in your region?”) to get a sense of how young people see things. They are suffering from covid, housing costs and homelessness, food costs, medical costs, and they are terrified of climate change. Of course this is a self-selected group of posters, but I think they may be reasonably representative; their experiences match those of most of my younger relatives (not that I have many). Marrying and having kids is not in the picture at all; neither are good and secure jobs; nor is joining a community of people who are in a similar situation.

  17. Henry Moon Pie

    Gabor Mate and his The Myth of Normal: Trauma, Illness, and Healing in a Toxic Culture is worth considering here. For an introduction to his argument, here’s an interview of Mate by Chris Hedges.

    Capitalist societies destroy human households and spread trauma far and wide. I’m at the point that I have little doubt that this world is coming to an end. The question is how do we build a new world with people as traumatized as we are? And that “we” includes everyone from old men like me to the even more traumatized young. Since our health care industry, especially the mental health care industry, is already teetering and may well collapse before other industries, it looks like the sick will have to help heal each other.

  18. CharlesMcCabesGhost

    All that White Privilege. Whenever someone mentions that to me hereabouts, I just say “So?”

    Ancestors fought in Revolutionary War, Civil War, WWI, WWIII, Korea, paid taxes for centuries, volunteered, worked etc. Why we have a bigger obligation to help our homeless veterans and citizens than volutary arrivals from Latin America.

    1. Paris

      As far as I know we have a professional army and people enlist in the military to fight the Empire’s wars out of their own free will. I feel more sorry for the countries and populations they destroy because of their greed.

    2. ambrit

      One of my distant ancestors fought for his lawful King and Country in that unfortunate contest. He was one of the troops who captured Breed’s Hill outside Boston. One thing the Crown did of a more “civilized” nature during that affray was to promise freedom and help in resettlement for “persons of colour” who defected and fought for the Crown. Those promises were mainly kept, even when the Crown lost the colonies.
      This focusing on the homeless veterans is a subtle form of the age old tactic of “divide and rule.” Make the charge the effective helping of all the homeless and you will get somewhere with a wider segment of the population.
      The illegal immigrants issue is really separate and more complex. That issue includes the issues of American Elite’s traditional importation of cheap labour in order to undercut and thwart the claims of the working masses for a more equitable distribution of the fruits of the economy. Remember, Franklin D Roosevelt was wealthy from birth. His big epiphany was that economic inequality caused civil unrest and revolutions. So, he gave a little to save a lot. His heirs have forgotten that lesson and are well on track to lose it all.
      I will bring a bag of marshmallows and a toasting stick to the Elite Auto-da-fe.

  19. Jason S

    Decades of marxism and humanism — attacking all that God deems good and right (His Sovereignty, His Word, family, our neighbors…). Humans have been running from God for a long time. Modern babylon of the west seeing the effects of humans striving on our own. God is still here though… we can still choose Him.

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