Murder, suicide, car crashes, and addiction have all contributed to a spike in deaths among U.S. children and teens in recent years, a government study suggests.
The death rate for youth aged 10 to 19 rose 12% between 2013 and 2016, eroding a previous decline stretching back to 1999, according to the study from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Injuries accounted for 70% of deaths in this age group in 2016, far outpacing fatalities from natural causes like cancer and heart disease.
In 2016, the leading cause of death in youth aged 10-19 in the United States was unintentional injuries and accidents — mostly traffic fatalities (62%), poisonings (16%), and drownings (7%). Intentional injuries (homicides and suicides) were also up:
Homicide rates climbed 27% from 2014 to 2016, after dropping 35% between 2007 and 2014. Guns accounted for 87% of these murders, and many of the remaining cases involved knives.
Suicide rates increased 56% between 2007 and 2016, after dropping 15% between 1999 and 2007. Firearms and suffocation each accounted for 43% of these fatalities, and 6% of suicides were by poisoning.
Overall, preventable deaths from opioids, motor vehicle accidents, and firearms are on the rise in children and young adults. In a recent JAMA Viewpoint article, the authors opine that these recent trends “suggest a concerning trajectory for US health outcomes, which stands in contrast to trends in other high-income countries.”
The health and well-being of teenagers and young adults should be considered an important concern for the US health system; increasing mortality in the population that should be the healthiest and most productive is a warning. Deaths of teenagers and young adults represent a substantial amount of years of potential life lost, work-loss costs, and unmeasurable emotional costs to their families and friends. Reversing this course of increasing mortality among teenagers and young adults will require the enactment of effective policies to prevent and treat opioid addiction, build safer motor vehicles and roadways, and increase mental health services while restricting access to firearms for those who may harm themselves or others.
We’ll take a closer look at the distressing statistics on suicide in America tomorrow on The PediaBlog.