NJ’s death rate due to drugs, alcohol and suicide projected to spike
The rate of New Jersey lives cut short by drugs, alcohol and suicide could nearly double over the next several years — without the proper intervention — according to an analysis of U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention figures.
The report released by the Trust for America's Health and the Well Being Trust finds New Jersey's death rate for these three causes could rise to 44.4 per 100,000 by the year 2025, compared to the state's rate of 30.5 per 100,000 as of 2015.
"Nationally what we know is over the 10 years, 1 million people have died due to drugs, alcohol and suicide," Ben Mller, chief policy officer for Well Being Trust, told New Jersey 101.5. "If those trends continue, New Jersey's drug, alcohol and suicide death rate could increase by 46 percent over the next 10 years."
And that's considered a conservative estimate, the report notes, due to the rapid rise of heroin and fentanyl abuse.
Even with the projected spike in deaths, New Jersey's rate would rank as the sixth best in the nation. It currently ranks as fourth best.
In the report, the Garden State received a pat on the back for, among other measures, its participation in the Prescription Drug Monitoring Program — which requires prescribers to check a patient database before submitting an opioid script — as well as its Good Samaritan law protecting people reporting an overdose, and comprehensive anti-bullying laws.
In addition, Gov. Chris Christie signed legislation into law earlier this year that allows the public to purchase the opioid antidote Narcan without a prescription.
Out of every 1,000 children in New Jersey, the report finds, 4.8 are confirmed as victims of maltreatment. The national average is 9 per 100,000 children.
While nine states require annual suicide prevention training for school personnel — as of 2016 — New Jersey does not, according to the report.
The report calls for a national resilience strategy that focuses primarily on prevention, early identification of issues and effective treatment.
“We’re facing a generational crisis. And it calls for bigger and bolder action. Simply creating new programs to address one piece of the problem is insufficient — we need more robust and systematic change. The good news is: we know a lot about what works and can make a difference," Miller said in a news release accompanying the report.
“This report highlights the need for investments that take a whole-person approach to well-being — encompassing the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual aspects of well-being — to truly address the drivers of pain, ultimately saving lives.”
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Contact reporter Dino Flammia at email@example.com.