A University of Iowa report finds an average of four Iowans are killed every day, or more than 1,500 people a year, by injuries. John Lundell, deputy director of the U-of-I’s Injury Prevention Research Center, says the first-of-its-kind report is broken down by age group, gender and injury and covers the years 2002 through 2006.
Lundell says unintentional injuries are the leading cause of death for younger people, from ages one to young adulthood and from the ages of 25-to-34, things like car crashes, motorcycle crashes and drownings. Motor vehicle crashes are the number-one cause of unintentional injury deaths for all Iowans, while teens and young adults have the highest rates of hospitalizations and emergency department visit due to crashes.
The report found Iowans in their middle years are their own worst enemies, so to speak, as their top killer is suicide. Lundell says, "That is surprising to many folks and it’s unfortunately a cause of injury and death in this state that has, so far, been largely unaddressed."
Suicide is the leading cause of injury death for Iowans in the 35-to-54 age group, while it’s the number-two cause, behind car crashes, for teens and young adults. While many young people can trip and fall with no consequences other than maybe a skinned knee, Lundell says that’s not the case for the older generation.
Falls are a significant cause of death in the elderly. Lundell says, "Many of us have experienced a fall of a loved one that might result in a hip fracture or a head injury and oftentimes, unfortunately, it’s the cause that finally puts them to their final rest." The report also looks at Iowans’ injuries geographically.
He says smaller counties, those with populations of less than 10,000, had the highest injury-death rate while counties with populations of more than 50,000 had the lowest injury-death rate. While injuries kill an average of four Iowans a day, Lundell says for every person who dies, another 250 make emergency room visits.
Part of the goal of the report is for Iowans to recognize there are serious risks out there — but he says there are also ways to minimize those risks. He hopes people will consider working with their local Safe Kids Coalition, or to get people to wear seat belts or bike helmets. Others may take on public policy initiatives and work with their legislators and come up with programs, for example, to reduce falls.
You can see the full report on unitended deaths here .