THURSDAY, Sept. 20 (HealthDay News) -- More Americans now commit suicide than die in car crashes, making suicide the leading cause of injury deaths, according to a new study.
In addition, over the last 10 years, while the number of deaths from car crashes has declined, deaths from poisoning and falls increased significantly, the researchers report.
"Suicides are terribly undercounted; I think the problem is much worse than official data would lead us to believe," said study author Ian Rockett, a professor of epidemiology at West Virginia University.
There may be 20 percent or more unrecognized suicides, he said.
Many of the poisoning deaths may actually be intended, he added. A lot of these deaths are due from overdoses of prescription drugs, Rockett noted.
"We have a situation that has gotten out of hand," he said. "I would like to see the same attention paid to other injuries as has been paid to traffic injuries."
The report was published online Sept. 20 in the American Journal of Public Health.
For the study, Rockett's team used data from the U.S. National Center for Health Statistics to determine the cause of injury deaths from 2000 to 2009.
The leading causes of unintentional deaths were car accidents, poisoning and falls, and for intentional deaths they were suicide and homicide.
Deaths from intentional and unintentional injury were 10 percent higher in 2009 than in 2000, the researchers noted.
And although deaths from car crashes declined 25 percent, deaths from poisoning rose 128 percent, deaths from falls increased 71 percent and deaths from suicides rose 15 percent, according to the study.
Suicide is now the first cause of injury deaths, followed by car crashes, poisoning, falls and murder, Rockett said.
Fewer women die from these causes than men, the researchers noted. In addition, blacks and Hispanics
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