Injury Related Deaths
Figure 1. The top 3 causes of injury related death.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) National Center for Injury Prevention and Control (NCIPC) data for 2009, injury was the leading cause of death among persons aged 1 through 44. It accounted for 48.5% of all deaths in this age group – more than 177,000 deaths. This includes all causes of unintentional and violence-related injuries combined.
Figure 1 shows data we compiled using the CDC’s Web-based Injury Statistics Query and Reporting System (WISQARS) for Fatal Injury Reports. The top three causes of injury related death in 2010 were Poisoning, Motor Vehicles, and Firearms. Number four was Falls, and number five was Suffocation. Until just recently, Motor Vehicles was number one, but showed a significant decline in the late 1980s and early 1990s owing to adoption and enforcement by states of seat belt usage laws. A significant decline can also be seen in the mid 2000s possibly because rear shoulder belts were required in the back seat for passenger cars manufactured after 2007, or perhaps simply because of the downturn in the economy.
Extrapolating Figure 1, injury related death from Firearms may exceed Motor Vehicles within a couple of years. A significant decline in Firearm deaths started in the mid 1990s; The Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act (Brady Bill) went into effect on February 28, 1994. The Act requires that background checks be conducted on individuals before a firearm may be purchased from a federally licensed dealer. The check is conducted through the National Criminal Instant Background Check System maintained by the FBI.
With injury deaths from both Motor Vehicles and Firearms on the decline, Poisoning has been on the increase since the mid 1990s. The vast majority of Poisoning deaths are caused by drugs, including abuse and overdose, and most of those are unintentional, meaning the person did not intend to harm themselves. The increase coincides very closely with the trend in per person sales of opioid analgesics such as OxyContin which first hit the market in 1996.