DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) — In recent studies, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that the U.S. saw a 19% spike in deaths from 2019 to 2020. That same research has also found that Americans 25 to 34 are dying to drugs, gang violence and suicide close to rates that haven’t been seen since the 1950s.
While tragic, these findings aren’t surprising to medical experts like Dr. Austin Williams, a family physician at Kettering Health. “The economic damage that the COVID-19 pandemic did, there is sort of a wave of depression. You are seeing a lot of suicidality among this age group.”
Williams said in the last year he’s seen significant upticks in younger people coming in for mental health concerns. “Fifty to 60 percent of what I see on a daily basis is, if not outright depression and anxiety, touched or influenced by it.”
Williams said struggling with mental health can also segue into other problems for many people. “Lots of heroine, fentanyl, opioids. The areas in which I’ve trained and now work have been hit very hard by the opioid epidemic.”
In June 2020, the CDC also reported over a 31% increase in drug overdose deaths, mostly involving young people. Other causes listed for U.S. young adults were gun violence, car wrecks and suicide.
“A lot of what we’re seeing is that midlife crisis loss of purpose, but it’s going so much younger. It’s going into the younger generation, and they’re not even making it to their midlife,” said Betsy Linnell, an assistant professor of psychology at Cedarville University.
Both Linnell and Williams encourage people struggling with addiction or mental health to immediately contact their family doctor or mental health counselor for assistance.