Examining a variety of federal and state data the NSC found the lifetime odds of dying from an accidental opioid overdose were 1 in 96. For motor vehicle accidents the odds were 1 in 103 and 1 in 114 for falls. The lifetime odds of suicide were greater, at 1 in 88.
“Too many people still believe the opioid crisis is abstract and will not impact them. Many still do not see it as a major threat to them or their family,” said Maureen Vogel, spokeswoman for the National Safety Council told CNN in an email. “These data show the gravity of the crisis. We have known for some time that opioid overdose is an everyday killer, and these odds illustrate that in a very jarring way.”
The NSC highlights, however, that the odds given are statistical averages over the whole US population and do not necessarily reflect the chances of death for a particular person from a particular external cause. In addition they are lifetime odds, based on dividing the one-year odds by the life expectancy of a person born in 2017.
In 2017 preventable injury deaths were 169,936 — an increase of 5.3% from the year before and a 96% increase compared to the figures in 1992.
“The data really underscore the importance of knowing the biggest risks to our safety,” said Vogel. “The Council calculates the Odds of Dying not to scare Americans but to empower them to make safer decisions and improve their chances of longevity.”
The organization has highlighted these numbers in a bid to help prevent future deaths from preventable causes.
“For too long, preventable deaths and injuries have been called ‘accidents,’ implying unavoidable acts of God or fate that we are powerless to stop. This is simply not true,” it wrote. “In the US, preventable injuries are at an all-time high.”
Comparing 2017 to 2016, home and public deaths saw large increases of 6% or more being driven largely by an 11% increase in poisoning deaths (including opioid overdoses) and a 5% increase in fall deaths (primarily among the older population).