Spotlight: Injury and violence prevention

Screen Shot 2018-04-05 at 9.53.54 PMThe Guilford County Department of Public Health is acknowledging this week as National Public Health Week. National Public Health Week runs April 2 through April 8. Today’s spotlight is focused on injury and violence prevention. NPHW is an initiative of the American Public Health Association.

Why should I care?

In 2016, preventable unintentional injuries took the lives of a record 161,000 Americans and became the nation’s third leading cause of death. The U.S. unintentional injury rate spiked 10 percent between 2015 and 2016 — the biggest single-year increase since 1936. Much of that spike was driven by an opioid overdose epidemic that’s killing about 115 people every day.

Overall, injury and violence (intentional and unintentional) take the lives of nearly 200,000 people in the U.S. every year — it’s the No. 1 cause of death for Americans ages 1 to 44. For every injury death, 13 people are hospitalized and 135 get treated in an emergency room. The cost: $671 billion annually.

U.S. motor vehicles deaths topped 37,000 in 2016, a more than 5 percent increase over 2015. (Especially concerning is the rate of unbelted deaths, which went up 4.6 percent.) Pedestrian deaths spiked 9 percent in 2016 — the highest number since 1990. For older Americans, falls are the top cause of injury and injury-related death, with one older adult falling every second. Among the country’s workers, fatal occupational injuries rose to nearly 5,200 in 2016, a 7 percent increase over 2015. Nearly 20 percent of U.S. adolescents have experienced a concussion.

On the toll of violence, about 96 people are killed with guns on an average U.S. day, including seven children and teens. In 2016, there were 1.1 million incidents of domestic violence, and one in every six American women have been the victim of attempted rape or rape. In 2015, 683,000 victims of child abuse and neglect were reported to child protective services.

The scope of America’s injury and violence problem is large, but it is certainly not beyond our power to make a difference.

What can I do?

#SpeakForHealth: Voice your support for policies that prevent and reduce injury and violence — smart policies can make a big difference. And urge your representatives to consider health in all policies.

Evidence-based policy is critical to curbing injury and violence, especially as the country grapples with a worsening opioid epidemic and one of the highest mass shooting rates in the world.

Take personal action: Preventing injury and violence takes individual and community effort as well, from always buckling your seat belt and using pedestrian crosswalks to safely storing firearms and keeping medications out of reach of children and teens. Help older people in your life prevent a fall; help younger people in your life learn about the dangers of distracted driving.

At a community level, learn about ways to prevent sexual violence (PDF) and its consequences. Such prevention strategies include improving safety at schools and offering victim-centered services. Learn about ways your community can work together to prevent child abuse and neglect. Learn the signs of a concussion and ways that youth athletics can reduce the risk. Work with local partners to make injury prevention a fun community affair, such as hosting a child car seat check or a youth bike helmet giveaway at your workplace or house of worship.

Filed in: Health, Latest Headlines

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