Death is inevitable. But for young men ages 20 to 50, the causes of death are largely preventable. In the prime of their life and generally considered healthy, these young men are not dying in mass due to cancer, heart disease, or diabetes. Instead, they are dying prematurely from avoidable events.
Sadly, reality shows roughly half of all deaths in this age group of men are from car accidents, overdoses, and suicide bringing down life expectancy in this age and sex category. So what makes young men more apt to die from getting behind the wheel of a car, taking dangerous drugs, or wanting to take their own life? Unfortunately, these are complex questions with few good answers. Fortunately, with the right help, support, and guidance, young men can overcome being another statistic and instead live a long, healthy life.
Here are the top three things young men are dying from:
1. Motor vehicle accidents
It’s a fact: More young men will die in a motor vehicle accident (car, truck, motorcycle, boat) than young women. Blame it on young men taking unnecessary and dangerous risks of driving too fast, not wearing a seatbelt, texting, or driving under the influence; risky behavior can kill.
Reduce the risk:
Safe driving must start when men are teens and learning to drive. Every day, around six male teens from ages 16 to 19 will die from injuries in a motor vehicle accident. Teaching young men that driving is a privilege, and not a right every time they get behind the wheel, is a good start to teaching motor vehicle safety.
Basic rules to always follow at any age for men include:
- Never drive drunk. It’s not worth it. Having just two beers will impair judgment, and up to three can reduce the ability to steer. Buzzed driving is drunk driving, and never allow a friend or yourself to drive intoxicated. Instead, call an Uber, taxi, or sober friend who can safely get you home.
- Never text while driving. If it’s that important to send or respond to a text, always pull over safely.
- Never drive without wearing a seat belt – they do save lives.
- Never drive over the speed limit. Excessive speed not only puts your life in danger but also others.
2. Drug overdoses
The opioid crisis took a sharp upward turn in 2021 when fentanyl overdoses became the leading cause of death in adults between ages 18 and 45. First declared a public health emergency in 2017, opioid-related deaths spiked during Covid-19. Of course, relief from pain is a big part of why opioids are in demand. But often, rather than using prescription pain killers, people are searching out other alternatives like heroin that may be laced with the potent and deadly drug fentanyl.
Fentanyl works by binding to receptors in the brain that control pain and emotions. The more one uses fentanyl, the brain becomes used to the drug, and the more likely addiction will set in. The effects of fentanyl include drowsiness and confusion and can lead to overdose. In addition, an overdose of fentanyl causes breathing to slow or stop, reducing oxygen to the brain, called hypoxia. Hypoxia can cause coma, permanent brain damage, or death.
Reduce the risk:
The best way to avoid fentanyl addiction is to avoid all opioids. A primary cause of abuse of fentanyl is misusing prescription painkillers. It’s easier than many realize. If a doctor prescribes a painkiller, ask if there are any alternatives. If not, only use the medication for no more than three days as the longer used, the stronger the addiction.
For anyone already addicted, seek help. There are two medications, buprenorphine, and methadone, that can be used in conjunction with behavioral therapy, that bind to the receptors in the brain for opioids reducing cravings and withdrawal symptoms. Naltrexone is another medication that blocks opioid receptors to cut off the effects of fentanyl.
Behavioral therapies have also been shown effective in the treatment of fentanyl addiction. This type of treatment can help people cope and modify behaviors related to fentanyl use. Counselors will work with patients to learn healthy life skills to manage triggers and stress.
Women may have more suicidal thoughts, but men are more likely to act upon those thoughts. According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, in 2020, men died by suicide 3.88 times more than women. Middle-aged white men have the highest rate of suicide and accounted for 69>68% of suicide deaths in 2020.
Reduce the risk:
Speak up and out about suicide, start a conversation about this difficult topic, limit access to means of anyone contemplating self-harm and check in on loved ones who may be considering suicide. Other ways to prevent suicide include knowing the risk factors, knowing the warning signs, and calling the lifeline.
Risk factors may include mental disorders like schizophrenia, a history of trauma or abuse, feeling hopeless, or previous suicide attempts.
Warning signs indicating a loved one is a suicide risk may include talking about feeling trapped or in unbearable pain, being a burden to others, increased use of alcohol or drugs, or withdrawal from others.
Lastly, but most important, is to call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. Get in touch and stay in touch to prevent suicide.
Dr. David Samadi is the Director of Men’s Health and Urologic Oncology at St. Francis Hospital in Long Island. He’s a renowned and highly successful board certified Urologic Oncologist Expert and Robotic Surgeon in New York City, regarded as one of the leading prostate surgeons in the U.S., with a vast expertise in prostate cancer treatment and Robotic-Assisted Laparoscopic Prostatectomy. Dr. Samadi is a medical contributor to NewsMax TV and is also the author of The Ultimate MANual, Dr. Samadi’s Guide to Men’s Health and Wellness, available online both on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Visit Dr. Samadi’s websites at robotic oncolo gy and prostate cancer 911.