Life expectancy is down, overdose deaths, suicides are a contributor

BISMARCK, N.D. - Life expectancy nationally has decreased by yet another year.

The CDC says it's linked to the increase of suicides and opioid overdose deaths.

A report from a few months ago says North Dakota had the largest suicide rate increase. And the state also made it on the map for opioid overdose deaths because of its large increase, too.

Opioid overdose deaths have been steadily climbing in the state.

Heartview Foundation Executive Director Kurt Snyder said: “In 2013 we had 20 people that died from an overdose. In 2014 we had 40. Next year 60, the next year 70. So we actually got on the radar of the CDC because of our percentage increase."

So, it comes at no surprise that the life expectancy is down.

"So this hasn't happened in over a hundred years, where we see this decrease over three years. So, it is scary. And I think the things that need to change are focusing on mental health issues," said Daniel Field, Sanford Health physician.

And treatment centers agree.

"The fact is we still need the access to services," said Snyder. "We still need the care and the willingness to see this as a very treatable brain disease."

Snyder says through medication like methadone, they're able to help people through their addictions and minimize deaths.

Snyder says Heartview is in the three percent of treatment centers across the country that provide opioid addiction help with all three medications-- methadone, buprenorphine and naltrexone.