Deaths from Injuries Rise in Some States in Last Four Years

A new report gives insight into injury related deaths state by state in the U.S.

According to The Facts Hurt: A State-By-State Injury Prevention Policy Report, in the past four years, the number of injury deaths increased significantly in 17 states, remained stable in 24 states and decreased in 9 states. The national rate is 58.4 per 100,000 people. Injuries are the leading cause of death for Americans ages 1 to 44-and are responsible for nearly 193,000 deaths per year.

Drug overdoses are the leading cause of injury deaths in the United States, at nearly 44,000 per year. These deaths have more than doubled in the past 14 years, and half of them are related to prescription drugs (22,000 per year). Overdose deaths now exceed motor vehicle-related deaths in 36 states and Washington, D.C.

The Facts Hurt report, released today by the Trust for America’s Health (TFAH) and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) also includes a report card of 10 key indicators of leading evidence-based strategies that help reduce injuries and violence. The indicators were developed in consultation with top injury prevention experts from the Safe States Alliance and the Society for the Advancement of Violence and Injury Research (SAVIR).

Twenty-nine states and Washington, D.C., scored a five or lower out of the 10 key injury-prevention indicators. New York received the highest score of nine out of a possible 10, while four states scored the lowest, Florida, Iowa, Missouri and Montana, with two out of 10.

“Injuries are not just acts of fate. Research shows they are pretty predictable and preventable,” said Jeffrey Levi, PhD, executive director of TFAH. “This report illustrates how evidence-based strategies can actually help prevent and reduce motor vehicle crashes, head injuries, fires, falls, homicide, suicide, assaults, sexual violence, child abuse, drug misuse, overdoses and more. It’s not rocket science, but it does require common sense and investment in good public health practice.”

Key findings include:

Drug abuse: More than 2 million Americans misuse prescription drugs. The prescription drug epidemic is also contributing to an increase in heroin use; the number of new heroin users has doubled in the past seven years. Key report indicators include:
34 states and Washington, D.C. have “rescue drug” laws in place to expand access to, and use of naloxone-a prescription drug that can be effective in counteracting an overdose-by lay administrators. This is double the number of states with these laws in 2013 (17 and Washington, D.C.)
While every state except Missouri has some form of Prescription Drug Monitoring Program (PDMP) in place to help reduce doctor shopping and mis-prescribing, only half (25) require mandatory use by healthcare providers in at least some circumstances.
Motor vehicle deaths:  Rates have declined 25 percent in the past decade (to 33,000 per year).  Key report indicators include:
21 states have drunk driving laws that require ignition interlocks for all offenders
While most states have Graduated Drivers Licenses that restrict times when teens can drive, 10 states restrict nighttime driving for teens starting at 10 p.m.
35 states and Washington, D.C., require car safety or booster seats for children up to age 8. 
Homicides:  Rates have dropped 42 percent in the past 20 years (to 16,000 per year). The rate of Black male youth (ages 10 to 24) homicide victims is 10 times higher than for the overall population. One in three female homicide victims is killed by an intimate partner. A key report indicator includes:
31 states have homicide rates at or below the national goal of 5.5 per every 100,000 people.
Suicides: Rates have remained stable for the past 20 years (41,000 per year).  More than one million adults attempt suicide and 17 percent of teens seriously consider suicide each year. Seventy percent of suicides deaths are among White males.
Falls: One in three Americans over the age of 64 experiences a serious fall each year, falls are the most common nonfatal injuries, and the number of fall injuries and deaths are expected to increase as the Baby Boomer cohort ages. A key report indicator includes:
13 states have unintentional fall-related death rates under the national goal (of 7.2 per 100,000 people-unintentional falls).
Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) from sports/recreation among children have increased by 60 percent in the past decade.

“Injuries are persistent public health problems. New troubling trends, like the prescription drug overdose epidemic, increasing rates of fall-related deaths and traumatic brain injuries, are serious and require immediate response,” said Corrine Peek-Asa, MPH, PhD, professor and associate dean for Research at the College of Public Health, University of Iowa. “But, we cannot afford to neglect or divert funds from ongoing concerns like motor vehicle crashes, drownings, assaults and suicides.  We spend less than the cost of a box of bandages, at just $.028 per person per year on core injury prevention programs in this country.”

“This report provides state leaders and policymakers with the information needed to make evidence-based decisions to not only save lives, but also save state and taxpayers’ money,” said Amber Williams, executive director of the Safe States Alliance. “The average injury-related death in the United States costs over $1 million in medical costs and lost wages. Preventing these injuries will allow for investments in other critical areas including education and infrastructure.”

The report provides a series of specific, research-based recommendations for reducing the harm caused by a range of types of injury and violence-with a focus on prevention. It was supported by a grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and is available on TFAH’s website at

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