Pain in the Nation: Education Brief

How the education sector can help address the alcohol, drug and suicide crises.

The Rising Problem of Despair

In 2016, 142,000 Americans died from alcohol-induced fatalities, drug overdoses and suicide–one every four minutes. these “deaths of despair” have become a full-blown public health crisis as the number of Americans who died each year from the trio of causes has escalated at an alarming pace over the last decade.

Although these death are mostly among adults, children are also dying from these same diseases of despair, and many more are suffering second-hand as adults and caregivers around them struggle with, and some die, from the alcohol, drug and suicide epidemics.

Recognizing that despair deaths are caused by a confluence of factors that adversely affect well-being and contribute to underlying pain, the Trust for America’s Health and Well Being Trust have called for a national strategy to improve resilience. If we can strength family and social relationships improve the social-emotional development of America’s young people, and reduce early childhood trauma in our nation, we can many of the dynamics fueling the rise in despair deaths. Much of this important work can be done in our nation’s schools.

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