140k+ Americans died of alcohol, drugs or suicide in 2016: 3 things to know

The number of Americans who died from an overdose related to synthetic opioids doubled in 2016, while overdose deaths related to other opioids fell by 3 percent, according to a report released Feb. 22.

To assess annual death trends related to alcohol, drugs and suicide, researchers with Trust for America's Health and Well Being Trust analyzed CDC mortality data for 1999 through 2016.

Here are three report findings.

1. Deaths attributable to synthetic opioids increased by more than 2,000 percent since 1999, doubling between 2015 and 2016. In 2016, 19,400 U.S. residents died from synthetic opioids, 15,500 died from heroin and 14,500 died from opioids like morphine and codeine, marking the first time annual deaths for synthetic opioids became the leading cause of opioid-related deaths.

2. The Northeast and Midwest experienced the largest increase in "despair deaths" — deaths attributable to alcohol, drugs and suicide. Six states and Washington, D.C., saw despair deaths increase by more than 20 percent: Delaware (25 percent), Illinois (21 percent), Maryland (40 percent), New Jersey (22 percent), Ohio (21 percent), Pennsylvania (25 percent) and Washington, D.C. (58 percent).

3. In 2016, 142,000 Americans died of suicide or causes related to alcohol and drug use. The number represents the highest annual total for such deaths ever recorded.

"For each of these deaths, many more Americans are affected, either directly or through family and friends," said John Auerbach, president and CEO of TFAH. "These new data demand policymakers rethink what communities are affected and what multisector strategies are needed to address these three epidemics. We must ensure that funding, programmatic efforts and policies are directed to all the people and communities in need."

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