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Death in the United States - Statistics & Facts

Approximately 2.84 million people in the United States lost their lives in 2018. The most common causes of death in the U.S. are heart disease and cancer, accounting for a combined 44 percent of all deaths. The odds of someone dying from heart disease or cancer in the United States are 1 in 6 and 1 in 7, respectively. Although these two diseases currently account for the vast majority of deaths in the country, this was not always true. In the early 1900s, pneumonia or influenza, tuberculosis, and gastrointestinal infections were the leading causes of death. Nowadays, deaths attributed to pneumonia or influenza remain common, but health issues such as diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, and suicide are major causes of death.

Cancer deaths

Cancer caused nearly 600,000 deaths in the United States in 2017. Lung and bronchus cancer is the leading cancer killer among both men and women – it is estimated 131,880 people will die from lung and bronchus cancer in 2021. Breast cancer is the second deadliest form in women, while prostate cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death among men. The states with the highest cancer death rates are Kentucky, Mississippi, and West Virginia.

Deaths of despair

Drug overdose, suicide, and alcohol abuse account for a large portion of preventable deaths in the United States. These diseases of despair – also known as deaths of despair – are often linked to social and economic conditions. Suicide, is currently the ninth leading cause of death in the United States. Suicide rates have increased for both genders over the past decade, but rates remain around 3.7 times greater among males. Drug overdose deaths in the United States have also increased over the past two decades due to the ongoing opioid epidemic. In 2019, there was a record number of drug overdose deaths. Most of these deaths involved opioids. Fentanyl, an extremely potent synthetic opioid, accounted for more than 36,000 deaths in 2019. Addressing these issues remains a challenge, but it is essential to provide affordable access to substance abuse treatment and rehabilitation and mental health treatment.

After death

According to forecast data, the burial rate in the U.S. fell to 38 percent in 2020. The cremation rate has steadily increased in recent decades, and it is projected that nearly 80 percent of people will be cremated after their death in 2035. This change in burial preference is due to various factors, but cost most definitely plays a role. In 2019, the median cost of an adult funeral with a viewing and a burial without a vault was 7,640 U.S. dollars. In comparison, the median cost of an adult funeral with a viewing and a cremation was 5,150 U.S. dollars.


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