A surprising study recently released by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows just how harmful drug and alcohol misuse have become in this country. According to the study, mortality rates linked to self injury have surpassed diabetes mortality. The CDC considers drug and alcohol misuse to be self injury.
ABC news reports that CDC researchers used 2016 data to estimate the number of deaths caused by both self injury and diabetes. That data showed a rate of 29.1 per 100,000 people dying from self injury as opposed to 24.8 per 100,000 dying from complications related to diabetes. That means self injury is now the seventh-leading cause of death in the U.S. Diabetes drops to number eight.
There is some question as to the accuracy of the numbers. CDC researchers say they could be too low, not taking into account reporting methods and risk factors. The data itself appears to be limited in what it can tell researchers about direct causes of death.
It’s also worthy of noting that the CDC’s category of self injury includes suicide along with alcohol and drug misuse. Study co-author Hilary S. Connery, M.D., Ph.D. explained in a press release relating to the study that suicide cannot be separated from alcohol and drug misuse given that the two kinds of self injury are often related.
The CDC recognizes that while the number of self injury deaths is on the rise, inadequate resources are being dedicated to prevention. The government would like to see healthcare providers put more effort into public education and awareness surrounding self injury issues. Researchers also hope their study is an eye opener to the general population.
“It is time to end the silo approach to prevention,” Connolly said in her press release.
The study’s authors have indicated a desire to see self injury treated with the same kind of urgent attention already paid to chronic illnesses. They believe the risks are serious enough to consider self injury in the same league as cancer, heart disease, and lung disease.