BREAKING NEWS : Man in critical condition after shooting in Fort Wayne Full Story

A 'wake-up call' about what's killing America's young people

There has been a significant rise in accidental deaths, homicides and suicides among young people across the United S...

Posted: Jun 1, 2018 2:53 PM
Updated: Jun 1, 2018 2:53 PM

There has been a significant rise in accidental deaths, homicides and suicides among young people across the United States, and experts are calling it a wake-up call.

The total death rate for 10- to 19-year-olds in the United States declined 33% between 1999 and 2013 but then suddenly soared 12% between 2013 and 2016, according to a new report from the National Center for Health Statistics at the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (PDF).

Accidental deaths rose 13% among 10- to 19-year-olds in the US between 2013 and 2016

Suicide and homicide rates are also rising among this age group after declining for years

"We should be worried about this," one expert says

The report, released Friday, revealed that this rise in deaths is attributable to injury-related deaths, such as traffic accident fatalities, drug overdoses, homicides and suicides, as opposed to illness, such as cancer or heart disease.

"When I first conceded to do this report 2- years ago, I thought that we would be documenting a decline," said Sally Curtin, a statistician at the CDC in Washington and lead author of the report.

"We were surprised that there was such a broad increase across so many causes of death," she said. "There wasn't just one that was contributing."

In general, the leading causes of death among adolescents ages 15 to 19 in the United States are unintentional injuries such as car crash-related injuries, followed by suicide and homicide, according to the CDC.

Among 10- to 19-year-olds around the world, road traffic injuries were the leading cause of death in 2015, followed by lower respiratory infections and suicide, according to the World Health Organization.

Car crashes, drug overdoses and gun deaths

The new report was based on data from death certificates filed in all 50 states and the District of Columbia between 1999 and 2016. Death certificates are generally completed by funeral directors, attending physicians, medical examiners and coroners.

Those data, from the National Vital Statistics System, were collected and processed through the Vital Statistics Cooperative Program. Researchers analyzed the data, taking a close look at the age of the person who died and the reported cause of death.

The data showed that unintentional injuries or accidents were the leading cause of injury-related deaths among 10- to 19-year-olds in 2016, followed by suicide and then homicide.

The rate of accidental deaths for 10- to 19-year-olds declined 49% between 1999 and 2013, dropping from 20.6 deaths per 100,000 people to 10.6 per 100,000. Then, the rate rose 13% between 2013 and 2016, increasing to 12 per 100,000.

Motor vehicle traffic fatalities accounted for 62% of these unintentional injury deaths, followed by poisoning at 16% and drowning at 7%. Those three methods of accidental deaths accounted for 85% of all unintentional injury-related deaths in 2016.

"The poisoning deaths do include drug overdoses: Ninety percent of poisoning deaths are drug overdoses, and most of them are in older adolescents," Curtin said.

The data showed that suicide rates among 10- to 19-year-olds declined by 15% between 1999 and 2007, dropping from 4.6 per 100,000 to 3.9 per 100,000. Then the rate increased by 56%, going up to 6.1 in 2016. The three leading methods of suicide that year were suffocation, firearms and poisoning.

As for homicides, the data showed a brief period of decline in rates between 1999 and 2001, followed by an increase between 2001 and 2007. Homicide rates dropped 35% between 2007 and 2014, from 5.7 per 100,000 to 3.7 per 100,000, and then rose 27% to 4.7 per 100,000 in 2016. Among the leading methods of homicide were firearms and cutting or piercing.

Firearms, in general, accounted for 87% of all homicides and 43% of all suicides.

These findings have some limitations, including that there is variation by state or geographic area in how medical examiners classify deaths and are required to rule a death a suicide. Suicide tends to be under-reported, especially when it involves drug overdoses.

"Accurate recording of the circumstances surrounding the death as well as classifying the death obviously would be a limitation, and especially within the context of a drug overdose," Curtin said. "Oftentimes, it's hard to tell, unless there's a suicide note, whether it was a suicide or unintentional."

'This is a wake-up call that we need to pay attention'

Dr. Thomas Weiser, a trauma surgeon at Stanford University Medical Center who was not involved in the new report, called the findings "very concerning."

"This should not be happening and bucks the trend that we as a country have experienced in the past several decades. We should be worried about this," said Weiser, who's also an associate professor of surgery at Stanford University School of Medicine.

"Our children are our country's future, and we as a society need to recognize when they are in trouble. This disturbing trend should be a wake-up call that mental health services, injury prevention, gun safety and ongoing efforts to improve car and driver safety need support, attention, and financial resources," he said. "Our investments now as a society will be paid back handsomely when our children grow up to be healthy, productive adults."

His concerns were echoed by Dr. Tina Cheng, director of the Department of Pediatrics at Johns Hopkins Medicine who was not involved in the new report.

"As a pediatrician and health care leader, the findings are consistent with what we are seeing: greater numbers of children coming to our clinics and emergency departments with mental health problems including depression, suicide and aggression, full beds on our mental health ward and lack of inpatient and outpatient services for children in dire need of treatment," said Cheng, who's also a professor at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

Yet "this is a wake-up call that we need to pay attention to the health and well-being of our children," she added. "It is hard to know the precise reason for the upturn in unintentional, intentional and self-inflicted injuries. Some have suggested that social media and cyberbullying may be contributing. Others have pointed to growing income inequality."

In 2016, 19% of children under 18 in the United States -- about one in five -- lived in families with incomes below the federal poverty threshold, which at the time was $24,339 for a family of four with two children, $19,318 for a family of three with one child and $16,543 for a family of two with one child, according to a report published in January by the National Center for Children in Poverty at Columbia University in New York.

A separate study published Thursday in the medical journal JAMA also found that among teens and young adults, 15 to 34 years old, there were increasing deaths due to injuries between 2012 and 2016. The three leading causes of death in that older age group also were unintentional injuries, including motor vehicle crashes, poisoning and drowning; suicide; and homicide.

To reduce the risk of injury-related deaths among youth, Weiser said, prevention services are key.

"Tackling the opioid epidemic is a massive issue and should be a priority. Access to mental health services for troubled or depressed adolescents is also fundamentally important," Weiser said.

"Most suicides are preventable with appropriate resources and counseling and by creating more barriers to lethal forms of self-harm, for example by locking up firearms and keeping them unloaded," he said. "Without a doubt, easy access to guns drives the homicide rate in the United States. This is such a fundamental issue to address through gun safety programs that are effective and widespread."

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 76522

Reported Deaths: 3086
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Marion16194731
Lake7742281
Elkhart495586
Allen4040163
St. Joseph361083
Hamilton2887104
Vanderburgh205313
Hendricks1943108
Cass18069
Johnson1794119
Porter136239
Clark130750
Tippecanoe124511
Madison103066
LaPorte93530
Howard92065
Kosciusko87212
Floyd82249
Bartholomew82147
Marshall79423
Monroe76732
Delaware76052
Vigo71411
Dubois71312
Boone69746
Noble69029
Hancock68839
Jackson5975
Warrick58830
Shelby56828
LaGrange56610
Grant53130
Dearborn51628
Morgan48934
Clinton4504
Henry41820
Wayne38810
White37711
Montgomery36021
Lawrence35727
Harrison35224
Decatur34232
Putnam3218
Daviess27920
Miami2772
Scott27310
Jasper2572
Greene25434
Franklin24715
DeKalb2384
Gibson2334
Jennings22812
Steuben2153
Ripley2138
Carroll2003
Fayette1957
Perry18713
Posey1800
Starke1807
Orange17824
Wells1782
Fulton1732
Wabash1715
Jefferson1662
Knox1640
Whitley1566
Tipton14912
Washington1441
Sullivan1411
Spencer1393
Clay1315
Huntington1273
Randolph1274
Newton12110
Adams1172
Owen1051
Jay920
Rush894
Pulaski821
Fountain762
Brown752
Blackford662
Ohio656
Benton640
Pike620
Vermillion590
Parke551
Switzerland530
Martin500
Crawford450
Union410
Warren241
Unassigned0208

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 104248

Reported Deaths: 3734
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Franklin18965531
Cuyahoga13869512
Hamilton9844259
Lucas5512326
Montgomery448998
Summit3667224
Butler303364
Marion294245
Mahoning2623256
Pickaway240042
Stark1904142
Warren185039
Lorain183177
Columbiana168360
Trumbull1563110
Fairfield143232
Delaware136519
Licking134551
Clark121315
Lake114642
Wood109058
Clermont96211
Medina95936
Miami86839
Tuscarawas79714
Allen79446
Portage77664
Greene73012
Mercer64113
Belmont62726
Richland61912
Erie61028
Ashtabula57746
Geauga56144
Wayne55459
Ross5094
Madison50310
Darke41429
Huron4115
Ottawa40426
Sandusky39917
Hancock3973
Athens3612
Holmes3316
Lawrence3180
Auglaize2756
Union2731
Scioto2591
Muskingum2481
Jefferson2403
Seneca2344
Shelby2154
Knox2147
Preble2122
Putnam21217
Washington21122
Coshocton1967
Champaign1882
Morrow1792
Crawford1775
Hardin17512
Clinton1716
Highland1692
Logan1672
Ashland1553
Fulton1551
Defiance1544
Wyandot1519
Brown1502
Perry1483
Williams1373
Fayette1240
Henry1222
Hocking1229
Guernsey1197
Carroll1135
Monroe9418
Pike800
Jackson770
Gallia741
Van Wert732
Paulding700
Adams642
Meigs580
Vinton322
Morgan300
Harrison261
Noble170
Unassigned00
Fort Wayne
Clear
64° wxIcon
Hi: 87° Lo: 64°
Feels Like: 64°
Angola
Clear
61° wxIcon
Hi: 85° Lo: 64°
Feels Like: 61°
Huntington
Broken Clouds
63° wxIcon
Hi: 85° Lo: 64°
Feels Like: 63°
Decatur
61° wxIcon
Hi: 86° Lo: 64°
Feels Like: 61°
Van Wert
61° wxIcon
Hi: 85° Lo: 64°
Feels Like: 61°
Storm Chances Friday
WFFT Radar
WFFT Temperatures
WFFT National

Community Events