Why are young people dying at record rates?

Most business stories are clearly about business, but some can’t be classified that simply.  They can just as easily be labeled current events, health trends, or something else.  The story that follows is an example of this, and probably the best way to categorize it is “bizarre.”  An additional comment: You may find it disturbing.

Although the story is still unfolding, it’s not exactly new, as it dates back to late 2021. Yet, despite the terrible events, duration, and mystery involved, it has received surprisingly little attention.  On second thought, maybe it’s being ignored because of these.

While complex, it can be summed up in a few words: Many thousands of Americans have and may be continuing to die for reasons that no one can fully explain.  That said, it follows that no one knows what the solution is.    

Can Numbers Lie?

The data that have given rise to this story appear to be very reliable, as they were compiled by life insurance companies – who understand numbers and statistics as well as anyone and better than most.   

One of those companies is Lincoln National, the fifth-largest life insurance company in the US and a business that has been around for nearly 150 years.  The numbers they’ve come up with for the last three years tell the story better than words can.

In 2019, the year before the pandemic started, Lincoln National paid out approximately $500 million in death benefits to people aged 18-64. 

In 2020, the year the virus grew into a national crisis, this number increased by 9% to $548 million.

But the numbers for 2021 are what really raise eyebrows.  In that year, the amount Lincoln National paid out for death benefits soared to $1.4 billion – an increase of 163% over 2020.

Lincoln National doesn’t disclose the precise number of clients who died, but that doesn’t mean it’s impossible to get a very good idea of what they are by analyzing statistics.  And the SHRM (Society for Human Resources Management), the world’s largest human resources professional society has done just that.  

According to the SHRM, there were 7,828 death claims made to Lincoln National in 2020.  However, they estimate that in 2021 this number jumped to 20,647 – an increase of more than 160%!  Lincoln says that this increase “was driven by non-pandemic-related morbidity.”

Fine. But if the pandemic had nothing to do with this increase, then what is the explanation for it?

One would like to attribute this increase in 2021 to a huge mistake that no one picked up, but this explanation seems most unlikely.  And for skeptics who would say that the numbers may be accurate but are just a fluke that happened one time at one company, please note that Prudential and Northwestern Mutual reported very similar experiences.

“Never Saw Anything Like This”

And so did One America Life, an insurance firm based in Indiana.  One America reported that deaths in this age bracket increased by 40%.  The company added that in the 145 years it has been in business, it has never encountered death rates that high.

Here’s how their CEO put it: “We are seeing right now [comment made several months ago] the highest death rates we have seen in the history of this business – not just at One America.  The data are consistent across every player in that business.

“The increase in death represents huge, huge numbers - and it’s not elderly people who are dying, but primarily working age people age 18-64 who are the employees of companies that have group life insurance plans through One America.

“What we saw in the third quarter of 2021 we’re seeing continue into the fourth quarter – death rates are up 40% over what they were pre-pandemic.  Just to give you an idea of how bad that is, a three-sigma or a 1-in-200-year catastrophe would be a 10% increase over pre-pandemic levels…40% is just unheard of.”

Second Thoughts

As I understand the CEO’s comments, his insurance company is acknowledging that there has been a huge increase in deaths over several quarters but the exact reason(s) are not clear, as it appears that they are neither COVID- nor pandemic-related.

So what could be causing them?  These days it has become popular to put a conspiracy theory twist around many stories, and the unexplained deaths is one that certainly lends itself to that.  However, none of the companies that have been impacted has even hinted at any such theory; nor has there been any whistle blower(s) who have stepped forth revealing closely-guarded information that would add credibility to such explanations.  In other words, everyone is still in the dark.

In researching this, I was unable to find any follow-up stories from the second quarter of 2022 or even from the first quarter that would shed light on what is going on.  Have reports about the mysterious deaths tapered off because trends have gone back to normal?  Considering that the story appears to have fallen out of the news would it be accurate to say that it is over and done with?  Or, as some undoubtedly believe, is it being suppressed?  That’s the best we could hope for at this point, but even the insurance companies that are involved can’t say that for certain.

I should tell readers that information for this article was taken from sources that I believe are accurate and that have been reliable in the past.  

After giving this story more thought, I can’t think of any simple explanations.  How about you?  Do you have any ideas?

Sources: reuters.com; theeconomiccollapseblog; theepictimes.com; zerohedge.com

Gerald Harris is a financial and feature writer. Gerald can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.