Safety Council: National Opioid Crisis ‘Fueled’ the ‘Unprecedented Spike’ in Preventable Deaths in US

ITASCA, Ill. — The National Safety Council has reported that the national opioid crisis is one of the main reasons for the “unprecedented spike” in preventable deaths in 2016—the latest year tallied by the organization.

“A total of 14,803 more people died accidentally in 2016 than in 2015—a 10 percent year-over-year increase. It is the largest single-year percent rise since 1936, and the largest two-year rise (+18.6 percent) since 1903,” the council outlined in a recent statistical report, referring to overall accidental deaths.

“The unprecedented spike has been fueled by the opioid crisis. Unintentional opioid overdose deaths totaled 37,814 from drugs including prescription opioid pain relievers, heroin and illicitly-made fentanyl,” it lamented.

The states with the highest opioid deaths include Ohio (3,495 fatalities), New York (2,752 fatalities), Florida (2,622 fatalities) and Pennsylvania (2,112 fatalities). While the council cited heroin and fentanyl as being partly responsible for the spike, its figures only tallied overdoses of prescription painkillers. The report also does not include those who committed suicide by overdose.

The statistics are second to motor vehicle deaths, which rose 6.8 percent to 40,327 fatal accidents in 2016. Other unintentional fatalities included falling, drowning, choking and fire-related deaths.

“Unintentional, preventable injuries claimed a record-high 161,374 lives in 2016 to become the third leading cause of death in the United States. In the more than 100 years the council has been tracking unintentional deaths, we have never reached such levels,” the council lamented. “Accidental death is now at an all-time high, eclipsing stroke, homicide, Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes and chronic lower respiratory disease. Only heart disease and cancer claim more lives each year.”

Click here to review the data summary.

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As previously reported, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced last February that drug overdose deaths have nearly tripled over a period of almost two decades, as an estimated 16 out of every 100,000 Americans lost their lives from an overdose in 2015, compared to 6 in 1999.

The following month, the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau for International Narcotics remarked in releasing its annual report that the opioid epidemic in America “demands urgent action.”

“The most urgent drug-related public health crisis within the United States remains the ongoing opioid epidemic,” it declared. “This long-developing epidemic, spurred originally by misuse of prescription opioids within the United States, is now increasingly fueled by heroin and synthetic opioids, such as fentanyl, trafficked into the United States by transnational criminal networks.”

“In 2015, for the first time, deaths from heroin alone surpassed gun homicides,” the report noted.

In October, President Trump declared the opioid crisis a public health emergency, stating, “We are currently dealing with the worst drug crisis in American history. … Addressing it will require all of our effort.”

The National Safety Council has launched the “Stop Everyday Killers” campaign in an effort to curb overdoses of prescription opioids, which includes a traveling memorial exhibit, as well as a website where viewers may review the stories of those who lost their lives from opioid overdoses. Click here to view the virtual memorial wall.

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