U.S. Life Expectancy Drops for Third Year in a Row!
U.S. life expectancy was just lowered again for the third year in a row. This is the longest span of time where life expectancy has dropped every year since 1915 – 1918.
At that time, the country was at war, followed by an epidemic of the deadly Spanish flu. In our current times, we’re losing people to drug overdoses–”deaths of despair”–and to suicide.
Life expectancy didn’t drop for women from 2016 to 2018. It dropped for men. The main drivers of the downward trend were men between the ages of 24 and 44.
In 2017, according to the Centers for Disease Control, we lost 70,000 lives to drug overdoses and an additional 47,000 to suicide. It is often pointed out that we lost fewer young men during the whole Vietnam War, when military service was compulsory!
Depression, anxiety, feeling cut off from others–feeling angry and turning that anger in on yourself (which results in depression)–these emotions happen all the time in our society.
If you have those kinds of feelings, you are not alone. The problem is not having those feelings, because so many people do. It’s what you do about them.
The Pressure of Fatherhood Causes Dis-Connect
I can say that fatherhood gave me purpose and meaning to be positive in a world that too often seems negative. Fatherhood doesn’t work that way for all men, though. Some experience it as almost unbearable pressure, calling into question their ability to perform as men–to provide for their families, to love, to sacrifice, to carry the heavy load placed on their shoulders.
As one older dad put it: “No matter what, as a dad, you feel that the buck stops with you.”
No matter how supportive the women in our lives may be, for example, a guy feels that he is the one who has to go out and shoot the wild animal, confront the burglar, swallow his pride when his boss is unfair, and pay the bills. It feels like, at the end of the day, it’s all really his responsibility.
Knowing you are not alone is the first step toward relief. You can band together with others to form a pack instead of always lone wolfing it.
Despair goes out the window when there is a sense of community and connectedness. Researcher William Dietz of George Washington University said that overdoses and suicides occur among people who are “less connected to each other in communities.”
Dads Get Connected
This is a season of connection, so spend some time taking your kids to the community tree-lighting ceremony, musical concerts at local churches and schools, and, if age-appropriate, Breakfast with Santa and other kid-oriented community events. Greet your neighbor, get into conversations, hang around a while at the mall and smile at strangers. Those little threads of connection can weave a safety net to keep you from being overwhelmed by all that our society demands of a man.
If you are a Dad who want to stay connected to Dads like you, feel free to join our The Good Dads Club Private Group on Facebook.