Life expectancy in America is down for the third year in a row. One of the reasons is because more people are dying by suicide.
At just 27 years old, Ashlynne Haycock has faced a series of unimaginable tragedies.
Her dad died while on active duty with the Army. Years later, her mother, who was also a veteran, died by suicide.
“It’s not about wanting to die,” Haycock says. “It’s about not wanting to be in pain any longer, and my mom was in a lot of pain from her own military service, from losing my dad, from being alone. She struggled.”
The suicide rates in the US are now at their highest levels in 50 years, according to the Centers for Disease and Control and Prevention (CDC). The numbers have jumped so much, suicides are partly to blame for a drop in US life expectancy.
Most Americans now live an average of 78 years and six months, a slight drop from last year and lower the third year in a row.
“I think, we as country, really need to focus on making suicide prevention a public health issue,” Haycock says. “Making sure that it’s something people know if they get treatment, treatment works.”
Sadly, Haycock learned that first-hand.
“I attempted suicide myself after my mom died, and my friends got me treatment,” Haycock says. “And I’m so grateful every day that I didn’t succeed.”
Now, Haycock works for the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors, an organization that supports military families who have lost loved ones, including those in so much pain they took their own lives.