Suicide Leading Cause of Injury Deaths

In a disturbing new trend, suicide became the leading cause of injury related deaths in the United States. The National Center for Health Statistics released a new report after analyzing statistics from the past ten years pertaining to injury related deaths. Car accidents used to be the leading cause of injury related death, but measures over the past decade to increase seatbelt-use have reduced car accident deaths by 25%. Death by suicide increased by 15% in the same time period. This dramatic growth and reduction in car accidents placed suicide atop the list. The top five injury related causes of death are:

  1. Suicide
  2. Car Crashes
  3. Poisoning (accidental)
  4. Falls (accidental)
  5. Homicide

The director of the study, Ian Rockett, believes the statistics may be underreporting suicide. He says, "Suicides are terribly undercounted; I think the problem is much worse than official data would lead us to believe." He believes up to 20% of suicides may be uncounted, and instead counted as accidential poisoning, for example. Prescription drug abuse is another example where accidental and intentional overdose can be hard to distinguish between.

For adults (18 and older), suicide is the fourth leading overall cause of death. For Americans age 15-24, suicide is the third leading overall cause of death, meaning young Americans are at a special risk. On a daily basis, 101 Americans committ suicide, and many more attempt. These statistics are staggering, and have inspired the United States government to treat suicide as a serious health concern. The federal government launched a new $56 million program, to provide funding for suicide awareness and prevention. The program is a part of the Garrett Lee Smith Memorial Act. The act is named in memorial of Gordon Smith's son. Smith is president of the National Association of Broadcasters and was once a U.S. Senator. His son committed suicide nine years ago, and since then Smith has become a prevention advocate. In the next five years, the program intends to save 20,000 lives. Smith says, "This issue touches nearly every family. It is something we can do something about."

In addition to the United States, suicide is evolving as a global health problem. Researches have observed similar trends in the European Union, China and Canada regarding the growing number of suicides.


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