There are many aspects of public health that need to be focused on, injury being one of them. Injury comes in two forms, intentional and unintentional. With regard to intentional injury, self-harm and suicide have been classified as major public health issues. Everyone is affected by injury regardless of age, sex, race, or socioeconomic status. Injury is the leading cause of death for Americans ages one to 44, and it claims the lives of about 199,800 people every year. More Americans die from injuries and violence than from any other cause including cancer, HIV, and the flu (CDC, 2016).
As times change the availability of harmful drugs increases, along with the mentality of “it will never happen to me” when it comes to addiction or injury, especially amongst teenagers and young adults. Many injuries are accidental, just random occurrences that turn out to be harmful. Injury hasn’t always been an area of concern for public health officials. Looking back to the 1900s, the top 10 causes of death were extremely different from what they are today. Unintentional injuries are the fourth leading cause of death and intentional injuries are now the tenth (CDC, 2017).
These injuries can be controlled and prevented in numerous ways, which would benefit our society’s public health status immensely. Injury has made its way onto the list of top concerns as it began to creep in and become a problem for public health people. Injury doesn’t only leave a person in pain, it leaves them with potentially life long side effects such as mental health problems and financial instabilities. The total cost of injuries and violence in the U. S. in 2013 was $671 billion; $214 billion going towards fatal injuries and $457 billion for nonfatal injuries (CDC, 2016).
Keeping in mind that many of these injuries could be prevented, that is a lot of wasted money that could have been used in other areas of greater priority. The United States has become much more efficient at controlling rates of infectious diseases with the use of new treatments and methods that have been discovered. Public health measures that have been taken to reduce these diseases include sanitary control, vaccinations, and isolations of contagious diseases. Though this was a major breakthrough in reducing morbidity and mortality rates resulting from disease, it gave way for an ncrease in homicide and suicide related injuries and deaths.
Another reason to include injury as a major public health concern is when back in the 1980s the risk of homicide and suicide reached epidemic levels within specific minority populations. Suicide rates amongst young adults also drastically increased in the mid to late 20th century (Dahlberg & Mercy, 2009). There are many people who have mental health conditions who are not receiving proper treatment and care for their ailments which could be a factor resulting in these high numbers of suicide, self-harm, and violent incidents.
The 20s can be a very dangerous time for many Americans because that is the age when people tend to indulge in risk-taking activities and move away from their parent’s financial safety net. People in this age category also tend not to have health insurance as they are not employed by full time jobs that supply health coverage (Kent, 2016). Many of these risky behaviors involve alcohol and drug use; specifically opioid use has been a growing epidemic among young people ages 18-25 in the United States. Heroine and morphine related deaths spiked in 2010 and have een on a steady incline.
Usage of fentanyl, which is 50 times stronger than heroine, has also been on a dangerous incline for a while now. Deaths due to overdoses on these drugs began to increase exponentially in New Jersey starting in 2015, with a 21 percent rise for heroine at 1,587 deaths, and an eight time increase for fentanyl at 417 deaths. A drug that instantly reverses the effects of an opioid overdose called Narcan has been used more than 18,000 times since 2014 (Stirling, 2016). Suicide rates among adolescents and young adults 15 to 24 ears of age almost tripled between 1950 and 1990.
Similarly, from 1985 to 1991 homicide rates among 15- to 19-year-old males increased by a dramatic 154 percent (Dahlberg & Mercy, 2009). These trends have continued into the 21st century and need to be controlled in the near future to come. These statistics sadly add to the increasing number of drug related injuries and deaths in the United States. Interventions and prevention efforts have been introduced and implemented throughout the years to address the growing issue of intentional injury, violence, and self-harm.
There have been major improvements made with preventing three of the leading causes of death in the U. S. just by changing exercise routines, dietary routines, and not smoking. This success encouraged actions to be taken in order to control and prevent injury and suicide related morbidity and mortality. Public health personnel realized that the increase in acceptance of importance of healthy behaviors on a person’s health resulted in the positive changes that were being made (Dahlberg & Mercy, 2009). In 1989 the report of the secretary’s task force on youth suicide ecommended a course of action for reducing the substantial increases in youth suicide that had occurred over the past decades (Dahlberg and Mercy, 2009).
In December 2010 the Department of Health and Human Services introduced ‘Healthy People 2020’ as a method to track many important areas of public health in an effort to prevent and control various ongoing issues. One of the goals of this program is to attain high- quality, longer lives free of preventable disease, disability, injury, and premature deaths (CDC, 2015). The Healthy People 2020 organization is a division of the Healthy People 2010 rganization that is concerned with some of the same objectives, one of them being injury and violence, specifically motor vehicle crashes and homicides.
In the time measured by this project the rate of suicide increased by 7. 6% while the homicide rates did not change significantly. The amount of motor vehicle crash deaths declined by 6. 1% (CDC, 2017). There have been many implementations made to prevent injury and injury related deaths. The increased use of seat belts, air bags and laws requiring helmets for motorcyclists have decreased the number of motor vehicle related injuries (Kent, 016). The quicker response time of emergency medical teams also helps to bring down injury related death rates from a lack of care.
In 1979, the surgeon general’s report ‘Healthy People’ had objectives to promote health by having considerable reductions in the number of child abuse injuries and death by 1990, the rate of homicide and suicide amongst 15-24 year olds, the number of handguns owned, and improvements in the reliability of data on child abuse and family violence. In 1986 the CDC established the Division of Injury Epidemiology and Control s a result from the report Injury in America: A Continuing Public Health Problem.
In the year 2000 the World Health Organization created the Department of Injuries and Violence Prevention to increase the global discernibility of unintentional injury and violence to aid in a public health action (Dahlberg & Mercy, 2009). As much as these government agencies implement opportunities to help reduce the amount of injury related deaths, it is still a major responsibility of our communities to step up and follow these laws and regulations to make some changes in the current trends.