Suicides and Drugs Overdoses are two reasons for a continued decline in American life expectancy.
Recently, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that there were more than 2.8 million deaths in the United States in 2017. Of these, 47,000 were suicides and 70,000 were overdoses.
If you want to understand why life expectancy is declining in America, the state of West Virginia may provide answers.
A History of Western Virginia
Maggie Hill lived her entire life in West Virginia. 67-year-old Hill told the Associated Press about the many deaths in her family. An older brother drowned in a flood. A sister died in a house fire. Two siblings who both smoked died of lung cancer. Two others died at birth. Her first husband died of heart failure.
Then there were suicides. Two of her three sons shot themselves. Her second husband killed herself on a Sunday morning while she was still in bed.
"I do not think people have much to live on," said Hill. "I really do not see things getting better."
Dr. Michael Brumage is a public health expert at West Virginia University. He led the health department in Charleston, West Virginia. He said, "It seems the worst results happen here first."
Among the 50 American states, West Virginia has the second-lowest life expectancy, only behind Mississippi. Hawaii has the highest life expectancy.
The nationwide overdose death rate is West Virginia's ten years ago. In fact, for several years, West Virginia has had the highest rate of drug overdoses.
West Virginia's suicide rate today is nearly 20 years ago.
More people are affected by diabetes in West Virginia. Heart disease and obesity than in most other American states.
Ten years ago, the AP designated the West Virginia city of Huntington as the unhealthiest place in America. The finding was based on health information from Disease Control and Prevention Centers. The report prompted the city and surrounding areas to make changes to the food served at schools. The area also improved parks and sidewalks to tackle obesity and related health issues.
When the city tried to cope with the weight problems of its citizens, a new health crisis occurred in Huntington: opioid 19659020] seeks .
On a summer's day in 2016, emergency workers in Huntington treated 28 overdoses in six hours – including two deaths. The city later became known as America's Overweight Capital.
There Is Hope
There are several new projects across the state that aim to help children move and eat healthier foods.
Kayla Wright is the director of an organization called Try This West Virginia. The organization pays for many projects. She said: "We want to give people hope that we can be dropped in 1945 as the worst list of states" . A program was paid for high school students to build a walking path. Another helped people grow a garden.
In Williamson County, local leaders – led by a young doctor named C. Donovan Beckett – developed a set of programs to create a health culture.
They opened the Williamson Health and Wellness Center for free medical care. They set up a community garden, a vegetable delivery service and a running club. In the coming year, there will be a program funded by federal states to treat drug addicts.
One of the most successful programs is one that sends health workers to the homes of diabetics.  Jamie Muncy is a success story.
The 48-year-old lost his job and his marriage was in ruins. Last fall, he finally stopped taking Opioide. He started taking the medicine after he had injured his foot.
He told the AP, "I had no motivation" to be healthy. "I did not care."
His weight increased from 75 kilograms to 89 kilograms. He had high blood sugar levels. A doctor from the Williamson Center put him on a special diet, hooked him up with a physical therapist and put him in the home visit diabetes program.
Now Muncy goes 1.6 kilometers a day and buys vegetables at the farmers market. The changes in his everyday life have helped him to reduce his weight to 66 kilograms.
Maggie Hill, the lifelong West Virginian, accepted Charity, a young girl raised by her son. He lost the right to raise the charity because of his ongoing struggle with drug addiction.
The charity has given Hills a meaning to
college. When Charity goes to college one day, Hill says she's going to move there with her.
I am Ashley Thompson.
And I'm Jonathan Evans.
. Mike Stobbe has reported this story for the Associated Press. Hai Do has adapted the story for learning English. Ashley Thompson was the publisher.
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Words in this story
Overdose – a too large and dangerous amount of drugs or medications
Siblings – n. a brother or sister
Result – n. Something that happens as a result of an activity or process
Obesity – n. the problem very fat
Opioid Seeks – n. A strong detrimental need to use analgesic drugs
tapping – v. To remove or stop something
– Funds – v.