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America's Children: Key National Indicators of Well-Being, 2017

Adolescent Injury and Mortality

Injury accounts for about 75 percent of adolescent deaths. Compared with younger children, adolescents ages 15–19 have much higher death rates overall and from injuries. Adolescents are much more likely to die from injuries sustained from motor vehicle traffic crashes and firearms than are younger children.96 The leading causes of nonfatal injury resulting in an emergency department visit also differ between adolescents and younger children. For example, the leading cause of adolescent nonfatal injury emergency department visits is being struck by or against an object or person, whereas for younger children, the leading cause of nonfatal injury emergency department visits is falls (see PHY7.A). In addition, emergency department visits for nonfatal injuries for adolescents more often result from violence, sports-related activities, or motor vehicle traffic crashes. For each fatal injury among adolescents, there are 11 injury-related hospitalizations and nearly 375 injury-related emergency department visits.95

Indicator PHY8.A: Emergency department visit rates for adolescents ages 15–19 by leading causes of injury, 2012–2013
Indicator PHY8.A: Emergency department visit rates for adolescents ages 15–19 by leading causes of injury, 2012–2013

NOTE: Visits are the initial visit to the emergency department for the injury. "Struck" denotes injuries caused by being struck by or against an object or person, "overexertion" denotes injuries caused by excessive physical exercise or strenuous movements in recreational or other activities, "cut or pierced" denotes injuries caused by cutting or piercing from instruments or objects, and "natural or environmental" denotes injuries caused by natural or environmental factors such as insect or animal bites.

SOURCE: National Center for Health Statistics, National Hospital Ambulatory Medical Care Survey.

  • In 2012–2013, the top five causes of injury-related emergency department (ED) visits among adolescents were being struck by or against an object or person, falls, motor vehicle traffic crashes, overexertion, and being cut or pierced.
  • Injury-related ED visits among adolescents ages 15–19 from being struck by or against an object or person (23 visits per 1,000), falls (22 visits per 1,000), and motor vehicle traffic crashes (18 visits per 1,000), accounted for about one-half of the injury-related ED visits for this age group in 2012–2013.
  • Injuries caused by overexertion from excessive physical exercise or strenuous movements in recreational or other activities resulted in approximately 10 visits per 1,000 adolescents ages 15–19 in 2012–2013.
  • Injuries resulting from cutting or piercing from instruments or objects accounted for 6 visits per 1,000 adolescents ages 15–19 in 2012–2013. The majority of these injuries were unintentional.
  • The ED visit rate for injuries due to natural or environmental factors was 6 visits per 1,000 adolescents ages 15–19 in 2012–2013.

Indicator PHY8.B: Death rates among adolescents ages 15–19 by all causes and all injury causes and selected mechanisms of injury, 1980–2015
Indicator PHY8.B: Death rates among adolescents ages 15–19 by all causes and all injury causes and selected mechanisms of injury, 1980–2015

SOURCE: National Center for Health Statistics, National Vital Statistics System.

Indicator PHY8.C: Injury mortality rates among adolescents ages 15–19 by manner of intent and gender, 2015
Indicator PHY8.C: Injury mortality rates among adolescents ages 15–19 by manner of intent and gender, 2015

NOTE: The manner of intent involves whether the injury was purposefully inflicted (if it can be determined) or unintentional. If the injury is deemed intentional, it is further classified as self-inflicted (suicide) or inflicted upon another person (homicide).

SOURCE: National Center for Health Statistics, National Vital Statistics System.

  • The death rate for adolescents ages 15–19 was 48 per 100,000 in 2015, continuing a long-term downward trend from the 1980 rate of 98 deaths per 100,000 adolescents.
  • Throughout 1980 to 2015, injuries were the leading cause of death for adolescents. In 2015, injuries accounted for about three-fourths of adolescent deaths.
  • Motor vehicle traffic (MVT) was the leading mechanism of injury deaths among adolescents ages 15–19 in 2015. The MVT death rate for adolescents declined from 42 deaths per 100,000 adolescents in 1980 to 12 deaths per 100,000 in 2015.
  • The death rate from firearms increased from 13 deaths per 100,000 adolescents in 1985 to 28 deaths per 100,000 adolescents in 1994. This rate has since declined to 11 per 100,000 adolescents in 2015.
  • The unintentional injury (accident) death rate in 2015 was higher among male adolescents (25 per 100,000) than among female adolescents (12 per 100,000). The homicide rates were also higher among males than females (13 deaths per 100,000 and 2 deaths per 100,000, respectively), as were the suicide rates (14 per 100,000 and 5 per 100,000, respectively).

table icon PHY8A HTML Table | PHY8B HTML Table

95 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Health Statistics. (2010). National Hospital Discharge Survey, unpublished tabulations.

96 Bergen, G., Chen, L. H., Warner, M., & fingerhut, L. A. (2008). Injury in the United States: 2007 Chartbook. Hyattsville, MD: National Center for Health Statistics.