Virginia’s white population is under siege. From immigration? No, from drug overdoses. A report from Virginia Commonwealth University’s Center on Society and Health finds an alarming rise in deaths among Virginia’s white population, ages 25-54.
The study found that while overall death rates in Virginia’s white population decreased by 16% between 1995 and 2014, death rates from 20 specific causes increased dramatically, especially among those ages 25–54 years.
More than half (55%) of these excess deaths were due to unintentional drug overdoses, suicides, and
alcoholic liver disease, what some have called “deaths of despair.” In Virginia, the rate of such deaths increased by 83% between 1995 and 2014, claiming almost 2,300 lives in so-called “excess deaths,” two-thirds of them caused by unintentional drug overdoses.
The same phenomenon has been noted around the country and is seen as responsible for a decline in life expectancy in the U.S. It comes as something of a surprise to many, however, to find it in Virginia, a state where whites have historically been the dominant societal group and where minority group members have been more likely to die prematurely from drugs, alcohol and other stress-related conditions.
“My concern is, and others have said this, is we’re now paying attention when it hits whites,” he said in a Richmond Times-Dispatch report. When African-Americans used drugs, “it wasn’t seen as a health issue, it was seen as a criminal issue,” he said.