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Suicide, drugs and alcohol are leading causes of Wisconsin's life expectancy decline
RHINELANDER - Since the turn of the century, the death toll from strokes, heart disease, and cancer have steadily declined thanks to medical progress.

However, the life expectancy for people born in Wisconsin is down for the second year in a row, according to a recent report from the Wisconsin Policy Forum.

CDC experts relate these statistics to a rise in drug and alcohol use and suicide.

In the last twenty years, the number of drug and alcohol related deaths in the state have more than tripled.

In that time, the state's suicide rates have continued to rise.

"I tell people that come in it's important to get regular checkups, to take care of their own self, their own mental health and their own physical health," said Gena McKenzie, mental health therapist at Phoenix Counseling in Rhinelander.

In 2017, a record setting percentage of people in Wisconsin took their own lives.

Research shows more than half of these people were diagnosed with at least one mental illness.

Mick Fiocchi is the director of the local chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness.

He said the best way to prevent suicide is to be vocal about it.

"Talking is absolutely vital because it is the only way to counteract stigma," said Fiocchi.

Fiocchi wants people everywhere to acknowledge their own mental health.

If you or someone you know is struggling with suicidal thoughts, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.

Story By: Peter Dubois


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