The amount of accidental deaths in the United States is skyrocketing, according to a new report issued by the National Safety Council. So what is the reason behind the rising occurrences of accidental deaths?
First and foremost, the report issued by the National Safety Council says that an all-time high number of Americans are succumbing to accidental deaths due to fatal overdoses and falls. In 2014 alone, 42,000 our of a total of 136,000 accidental deaths were due to overdoses, largely of opioids. Accidental poisoning was also placed high on the list as a reason for accidental deaths in the report.
Car crashes, which one usually thinks of when the topic of accidental deaths is put forward, have actually decreased. The report issued by the National Safety Council said that a primary reason for the reduction in fatal car crashes was due to safer cars being driven on American highways. However, though safer cars are available, not using seatbelts, speeding, and driving under the influence still leads to around 10,000 fatal car crashes in the United States every year. Also contributing to those crashes are the use of cell phones while driving; however, hard statistics on just how many crashes and accidental deaths are actually caused by the use of cell phones and other portable electronic devices are difficult to come by as distraction related accidents are under-reported. Experts say that in the event of a crash, it’s difficult in the course of a crash investigation for police to acquire information about the level of distraction at the time of a fatal accident.
The reason that falls are such a big part of the rising amounts of accidental deaths in the United States is because of a rapidly aging society, the report said. Elderly persons are at a much higher risk for a fall, and often that fall can lead to an accidental death. Anything from a bunched-up carpet to a misstep with a walker to a dizzy spell to an inadvertent extension cord can spell disaster for an older person.
When it comes to opioids and their addition to the nation’s accidental death count, prescription pain medications are the biggest culprit. Most of those that succumb to an overdose of opioid pain medication do so because they think either they can get more pain relief by taking more than the prescribed dosage, or they intentionally take more thinking that they can acquire a “high” without understanding that they are ingesting a fatal dose. Each and every day, an average of 52 people suffer an accidental death from opioid pain medications. Yearly, over 47,000 people suffer an accidental death due to a drug overdose – those being overwhelmingly from prescription pain medications.
According to the National Safety Council, opioids are being over prescribed by doctors. As such, more and more adults in the United States become addicted to opioids as a result, or graduate from opioids to something stronger, like heroin. Additionally, the NSC says that an alarming 70 percent of all people who admit to abusing prescription painkillers have reported they’ve gotten them at one time from friends or relatives. The Council reminds Americans that sharing prescription opioids with another individual is actually a felony.
Accidental deaths in the United States are just that: accidents. As such, by definition, they are avoidable. Putting the cell phone in the glove box while driving, taking extra care as an elderly individual or a caregiver of said individual, and following the strict guidelines put into place by health care officials when taking opioid painkillers can all make a significant reduction in the amount of accidentals deaths in the United States.
[Feature Photo by Getty Images]