Suicide Deaths Surpass Fatalities From Car Wrecks
September 24, 2012

More US Citizens Commit Suicide Than Die In Car Accidents

redOrbit Staff & Wire Reports - Your Universe Online

Suicide is now the leading cause of injury-related deaths in the US, having surpassed car wrecks in terms of mortality rate over the past decade, the authors of a study published this weekend in the American Journal of Public Health have discovered.

The study, which was led by West Virginia University epidemiology professor Ian Rockett, analyzed National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) figures compiled between the years of 2000 and 2009, according to the UK newspaper the Daily Mail. Over that time period, fatal automobile crashes had decreased 25%, while deaths caused by suicide had increased by 15%.

"Suicides are terribly undercounted; I think the problem is much worse than official data would lead us to believe," Rockett said of the findings, according to Makini Brice of Medical Daily. He added that the problem may be worse than the figures suggest as well, as upwards of 20% of all deaths could well be unrecognized suicides, many caused by prescription drug overdoses.

The study found that suicide is now the most frequent cause of injury deaths, followed by car crashes, then unintentional poisoning, unexpected falls, and murder, the Daily Mail said. The researchers also found that poisoning had increased 128% from 2000 to 2009, and that falls had jumped by 71% during that same time period.

"Higher automobile standards were credited for the decrease in deaths on the road, with harsher penalties for underage drinking and failing to wear seat belts named as contributing factors," the British newspaper said. "Previous research has suggested that suicide rates go up during recessions and times of economic crisis."

Rockett and his colleagues also report that women had a lower injury-related mortality rate than men over the time period, and that there was a "positive age gradient" in the adjusted fall mortality rate. Blacks and Hispanics were found to have a lower motor vehicle accident mortality rate and a lower suicide mortality rate than whites, but a higher adjusted homicide rate, they reported.

"In 2009, more than 37,000 Americans took their own lives, a number that the government and private groups such as Facebook are fighting to lower," the Daily Mail said. "A suicide prevention program is being launched under the Garrett Lee Smith Memorial Act, backed by $56 million of federal money. The Act was signed by George Bush in 2004, in memory of suicide-victim Garrett, son of former U.S. Senator Gordon Smith."