AltFacts: Only the Good Die Young

Average Lifespan Statistics

In the spirit of our health issue, we wanted to look at a truly bizarre trend in the US. Statistically, people are living longer, and people are dying younger. Try that math on for size. What we’re talking about are the advances in medical science that allow the old and frail to be old and frail longer than ever before. We’re extending life expectancies for those with access to care. Yet, for two consecutive years, the average life expectancy in the US has dropped. We’re the first western nation to have this happen in a time of (relative) peace, and it’s the first time since the early 1960s the US has seen such a drop. If we see a dip for a third year in a row, that will be the first since the Spanish influenza epidemic, 100 years ago. According to a CDC spokesperson, as reported by CNN, the biggest factor affecting this math is overdose deaths. Particularly those that are heroin related — they’ve been climbing precipitously. And while the heroin epidemic crosses lines of race, gender and income and reaches out to all ages, it is concentrated among younger people. Youth culture has always had a death-oriented component, and suicide among younger people is certainly not new – but the number committing suicide by drug is reaching peak levels, as jokes about dying and killing arguably also reach new heights in youth culture. In the Netflix Docuseries “Dope,” one anonymous dealer of particularly deadly heroin still sees himself as providing a kind of public service. “They want to OD,” he says of his customers. “They want to go. And it’s not a bad way to go.”

For those of you counting, the average US life expectancy for a male is now about 78. Opioids were involved in 42,249 US deaths in 2016 (2017 stats were not yet available), according to the CDC. RI – like the rest of New England – is among the states leading in this unfortunate statistic. The 18 – 25 year old demographic is the most likely age range to be using heroin.

So, as our society learns to keep its oldest members alive longer, it learns to cut down our youth in even greater proportion. What does this say about American culture and how it’s diverged between these generations? Are modern youngsters more sensitive, less tough? Or has the hope for economic prosperity on which children of the ’40s and ’50s hinged their life plans deserted the children of the ’90s and ’00s? Or is an increasingly pharmaceutical culture opening gateways that were not as available to previous generations (or other parts of the world, such as Spain, where harder economic disparities have not lead to such dramatic overdose levels)?

It’s worth noting that, uniquely, in RI, LifeSpan is expanding – but that’s the pseudo-monopolistic healthcare network, not the longevity statistic.

Publishing Almost Trumped

Motif is also pleased to announce the pending publication of a tell-all memoir detailing the true story of Donald Trump’s rise to power. It’s a little-known fact that one Motif staffer once applied to be on “The Apprentice.” Exclusive insights from that experience will tear through the veils of secrecy and expose true insights beyond your imagining. Although, to be fair, modern political news doesn’t leave room for much that’s beyond imagining. But still, this in-depth expose on what it’s like to send mail to people who might have spoken directly with people who met Trump is sure to blow your mind. We anticipate extensive legal bullying to attempt to prevent the publication of this tell-all, by the attorneys Team Trump has gathered and recently trained in the specific art of anti-publishing intimidation, and we have erected an anti-tweet-bomb force field in anticipation. Stay tuned for further developments, and expect to see Motif on Trump next to Michael Wolff’s Trump tome on bookshelves soon (mostly in airports, since most first-run bookstores were eaten by Amazon).

Some people have expressed confusion about this column’s veracity. To clarify, the first item is all true, and the second one is not. We appreciate that reality has warped enough that sarcasm and satire are becoming indistinguishable from reality, and we’re pleased to provide this public service to help distinguish them.

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