Health Highlights: Aug. 2, 2019

Here are some of the latest health and medical news developments, compiled by the editors of HealthDay:

U.S. Drug OD Death Rates Now Higher in Cities Than Rural Areas

Big cities once again have higher drug overdose death rates than rural areas of the United States, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says.

Such deaths had been concentrated in rural areas for more than a dozen years, the Associated Press reported.

A CDC report released Friday said that in 2016 and 2017, overdose death rates in cities were higher than in rural areas. In 2017, the urban rate was 22 overdose deaths per 100,000 people, compared with 20 per 100,000 in rural areas.

Rates for 2018 and 2019 are not yet available, but experts believe the urban rate is likely to remain higher in the near future, the AP reported.

The U.S. is facing its deadliest drug overdose epidemic ever, and there were about 68,000 overdose deaths last year, according to preliminary CDC data released last month.


U.S. Air Force Orders Day Off Training to Focus on Suicide Epidemic

The U.S. Air Force has ordered a day off from training to focus on a suicide epidemic in its ranks.

The first-ever move was announced as the Air Force deals with 30 more suicides among airmen so far this year than by the same time last year, CBS News reported.

“We lose more airmen to suicide than any other single enemy. Even more than combat. Seventy eight of our brothers and sisters have given up on life this year alone,” Chief Master Sgt. Kaleth Wright said in a video message.

“If we don’t do something, we could lose up to 150, 160 airmen in 2019,” Wright added.

Last year, the U.S. Marine Corps had its worst year ever, with 77 suicides and 354 suicide attempts. The Corps’ recently retired commandant, Gen. Robert Neller, wrote that over four years he had lost 224 Marines to suicide and only four to combat, CBS News reported.

Suicide is also on the rise among U.S. civilians, with a 31% rise since 2001, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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