Suicide has surpassed car crashes as the leading cause of injury deaths, according to a new study published in the American Journal of Public Health. The study was put together by Ian Rockett, a professor of epidemiology at West Virginia University, and the findings point out that, while deaths from car crashes are on the decline over the last decade, suicide deaths are on the rise. According to Rockett, "Suicides are undercounted; I think the problem is much worse than official data would lead us to believe."
Rockett's study employed data from the U.S. National Center for Health Statistics for injury death causes from 2000 to 2009. In that time, deaths related to car crashes declined by 25 percent, while suicide rose by 15 percent. Over that same period, deaths from poisoning rose 128 percent, leading to Rockett's assertion of underreporting of suicides. Rockett noted that many poisoning deaths may actually be intentional prescription drug overdoses, leading to that drastic increase.
Though the article focuses on the circumstances regarding increases in suicide, the 25-percent decline in automobile deaths is worth noting. Many factors can play into that figure, including the wealth of new passive and active safety features, as well as the number of older vehicles taken off the road by Cash for Clunkers. Additionally, there have been some reports that fewer 16-year olds are getting their licenses, and more people are driving less due to rising costs associated with motoring. Whether this is a continuing trend remains to be seen, but it should be noted that many factors have led to that 25-percent drop.