Injuries and Violence cause 1 in 12 deaths worldwide: New WHO Report

Background Information:

Injuries result from road traffic crashes, falls, drowning, burns, poisoning and acts of violence against oneself or others, among other causes.

Risk factors and determinants common to all types of injuries include

  • alcohol or substance use;
  • inadequate adult supervision of children; and
  • broad societal determinants of health such as poverty; economic and gender inequality; unemployment; a lack of safety in the built environment, including unsafe housing, schools, roads and workplaces; inadequate product safety standards and regulations; easy access to alcohol, drugs, firearms, knives and pesticides; weak social safety nets; frail criminal justice systems; and inadequate institutional policies to address injuries in a consistent and effective manner, in part due to the availability of sufficient resources.

Key Messages:

Injuries and violence take the lives of some 12 000 people around the world each day.

3 of the top 5 causes of death among people aged 5–29 years are injury related, namely road traffic injuries, homicide and suicide.

Of the 4.4 million annual injury related deaths, roughly

  • 1 in 3 of these deaths result from road traffic crashes,
  • 1 in 6 from suicide,
  • 1 in 9 from homicide and
  • 1 in 61 from war and conflict.

For people age 5-29 years, 3 of the top 5 causes of death are injury-related, namely

  • road traffic injuries,
  • homicide, and
  • suicide.

Drowning is the sixth leading cause of death for children age 5-14 years.

Falls account for over 684,000 deaths each year and are a growing and under-recognized public health issue.

Twice as many males than females are killed each year as a result of injuries and violence.

Worldwide, about

  • three quarters (75%) of deaths from road traffic injuries,
  • four fifths (80%) of deaths from homicide, and
  • two thirds (67%) of deaths from war are among men.

In many low- and middle-income countries, however, women and girls are more likely to be burned than men and boys, in large part due to exposure to unsafe cooking arrangements and energy poverty.

Across all ages, the three leading causes of death from injuries for males are

  • road traffic injuries,
  • homicide, and
  • suicide

while for females they are

  • road traffic injuries,
  • falls, and
  • suicide.

About 90% of injury-related deaths occur in low- and middle-income countries.

Across the world, injury death rates are higher in low-income countries than in high-income countries. Even within countries, people from poorer economic backgrounds have higher rates of fatal and non-fatal injuries than people from wealthier economic backgrounds. This holds true even in high-income countries.


Beyond death and injury, exposure to any form of trauma, particularly in childhood, can increase the risk of

  • mental illness and suicide;
  • smoking, alcohol and substance abuse;
  • chronic diseases like heart disease, diabetes and cancer; and
  • social problems such as poverty, crime and violence.

For these reasons, preventing injuries and violence, including by breaking intergenerational cycles of violence, goes beyond avoiding the physical injury to contributing to substantial health, social and economic gains.


With regard to child injury prevention, a study found that every US$ 1 invested

  • in smoke detectors saves US$ 65,
  • in child restraints and bicycle helmets saves US$ 29, and
  • in-home visitation saves US$ 6 in medical costs, loss productivity and property loss.

In Bangladesh, teaching school-age children swimming and rescue skills returned US$ 3000 per death averted.

The social benefits of injuries prevented through home modification to prevent falls have been estimated to be at least six times the cost of intervention.

It is estimated that in Europe and North America, a 10% reduction in adverse childhood experiences could equate to annual savings of 3 million Disability Adjusted Life Years or US$ 105 billion.

Injuries and violence are predictable and there is compelling scientific evidence for what works to prevent injuries and violence and to treat their consequences in various settings. This evidence has been collated into technical documents that can serve as a guide to support decisions for scaling up injury and violence prevention efforts – see:

Useful Links:

Link to the related WHO news release:–causing-1-in-12-deaths-worldwide

Link to the WHO Report:

Link to the WHO fact sheet on Injuries and Violence:

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