SOUTHEASTERN, N.C. — Statewide, the mortality rate for middle-aged white males is on the rise and “deaths of despair” are to blame.
According to research produced by East Carolina University, white males across North Carolina 45 through 55 years old are succumbing to behavior-related deaths, including suicide, liver disease and drug overdose. Suicide has increased by 52 percent and liver disease has increased by 38 percent across the state.
The results revealed “economically stratified geographies,” that impact poorer counties harder than wealthier ones.
However, in southeastern North Carolina, the all-cause mortality rate for white males is more stagnant compared to the rest of state.
Wealth and health
Researchers measured the mortality rate of middle-aged white males by county and were able to extrapolate a relationship between wealth and health.
New Hanover, Pender and Brunswick counties, considered ‘tier three’, were categorized within the highest economic group in the state as assigned by the North Carolina Department of Commerce.
In tier 3 counties, the all-cause mortality rate of white males was found to be “essentially static.” As for nonwhite middle-aged males, that number had actually decreased by 37 percent in tier 3 counties.
Behavioral factors were measured to determine factors contributing to the behavior-related deaths. The study found that binge drinking was the highest in tier 3 counties while smoking was reported to be the lowest when compared with other tiered categories in the state.
The study had limitations, including a data set sourced from 2000 through 2013 death certificates provided by the North Carolina State Center for Health Statistics. It also chose not to account for opioid-related deaths because “the authors questioned the validity of the coding on death certificates.”
For the full study, visit http://www.ncmedicaljournal.com/.
Johanna Ferebee can be reached at email@example.com or @j__ferebee on Twitter