As Silicon Valley announces loneliness ‘public health emergency,’ we reveal which state is actually the most isolated, according to research

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Written By Rivera Claudia

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Silicon Valley may have just declared a public health emergency over its loneliness crisis, pledging to promote social interaction, but the tech epicenter isn’t the place people feel most isolated.

Americans are more likely to be lonely if they live in the state of Maine, a report suggests. 

Health experts at AginginPlace analyzed factors in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, including the amount of single-person households and the number of divorces – which both can raise the risk of loneliness – to determine where in the country people were lacking the most social connection. 

The researchers then scored each state and calculated an average figure for comparison. 

They found the Pine Tree state, which has one of the highest divorce rates in the country, was the loneliest – with a score of 7.6 out of 10.

Maine was deemed the loneliest state, followed closely by Florida and Ohio. Meanwhile, Utah was the least lonely state, with Alaska and Hawaii close behind

Loneliness is a silent killer that US health authorities have deemed an epidemic

Loneliness is a silent killer that US health authorities have deemed an epidemic 

Florida and Ohio ranked closely behind, taking second and third place with scores of 7 and 6.68 out of 10, respectively, which experts suggest could be due to large retired populations and high searches for friendship apps like Bumble BFF. 

Utah, meanwhile, was dubbed the least lonely state, as its large Mormon population has led to a low percentage of divorces and single-person households. 

The findings come as San Mateo County in California’s Silicon Valley became the first in the US to declare loneliness a public health emergency this week. 

The US surgeon general has warned America is facing a loneliness epidemic, which health authorities have said is as deadly as smoking 15 cigarettes a day. 

The AginginPlace researchers wrote: ‘We are particularly concerned with the physical and mental wellbeing of those who are vulnerable, so we wanted to find out where in the US struggles the most with loneliness, and where people are maintaining social connections the best.’ 

The team looked at US Census data and national surveys to determine where states ranked in the following categories: population, percentage of single-person households, number of people widowed, number of people divorced, and searches for dating and friendship apps.

Each state was then given a score out of 10 based on how they ranked in each category, and the researchers took an average. 

Maine was deemed the loneliest state and was tied with Nevada for the highest divorce rate – 14 percent. 

The Pine Tree state also has one of the lowest state populations in the US, with just 1.3 million residents. And 31 percent of those live in single-person households, raising the risk of loneliness. 

Additionally, the state saw the third-highest number of searches for dating apps with 425,000 per year – equal to about 3,125 per 10,000 people. 

Being socially disconnected is as bad for your health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day, US surgeon general Dr Vivek Murthy said in 2022 when testifying before the Senate Finance Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington

Being socially disconnected is as bad for your health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day, US surgeon general Dr Vivek Murthy said in 2022 when testifying before the Senate Finance Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington 

America's report on social isolation had worrying findings for the country of 340 million people

America’s report on social isolation had worrying findings for the country of 340 million people

Florida came in second place, scoring seven out of 10. The researchers stated because the Sunshine State has a large older retired community, this raises the likelihood residents are divorced or widowed. 

According to the findings, seven percent of Florida residents are widowed, which puts it in the top five most-widowed states. Additionally, 13 percent of residents are divorced, and 29 percent live alone. 

Ohio came in third place with an overall score of 6.68. Like Maine, about one-third of its residents live alone – but Ohioans are craving companionship. 

The state, home to 11.7 million people, saw more than three million dating app searches in 2021.

New Mexico was dubbed the fourth loneliest state with a score of 6.60, while Vermont rounded out the top five at 6.28. 

Vermont has the second lowest overall state population, with 623,251 residents. 

It ranked third-highest for people living alone – 31.64 percent – and second highest for the number of dating app searches, at 3,167 per 10,000 people. 

Meanwhile, Utah was deemed the least-lonely state in the country, scoring just 0.72 out of 10. 

Utah had the lowest amount of single-person households – 19.2 percent – and was tied with several other states for the least amount of divorced residents – nine percent. 

‘The state has a huge Mormon community with more than half of Utahns identifying themselves as Mormons,’ the researchers wrote. 

‘This may contribute to the low numbers of divorce and single-person households.’ 

Alaska followed closely behind with a score of 2.32. 

Though the state has one of the lowest populations in the US, with 724,000 residents, the researchers found the Last Frontier state had the lowest amount of residents who had lost a spouse – 3.8 percent. 

Hawaii was deemed the third least-lonely state, scoring 2.56 out of 10. 

The researchers said its low score could be due to its ‘spectacular beaches and weather to enjoy,’ which can encourage people to get outdoors more and socialize. 

And despite San Mateo county declaring loneliness a public health emergency, the researchers found it is in the top five least-lonely states. 

California, the most populated US state with 39.6 million residents, ranked 48th loneliest, though its residents had the second highest number of searches for friendship apps. 

Last year, US Surgeon General Dr Vivek Murthy declared loneliness the next big public health crisis, claiming social isolation was as bad as smoking 15 cigarettes a day. 

Dr Murthy said social isolation had ‘profound health and societal consequences,’ including a 30 percent higher chance of suffering from heart disease.

He said: ‘We have an obligation to make the same investments in rebuilding the social fabric of society that we have made in addressing other global health concerns, such as tobacco use, obesity, and the addiction crisis.’

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