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In Alaska, suicides are up but homicides drop sharply

Craig MedredAlaska Dispatch

A new report from the Alaska Division of Public Health is a good-news, bad-news document, according to the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner.  The Alaska Injury Surveillance Report covers 1980 to 2009, a period during which the state population rose from 420,000 to 710,000. 

First the good news:  Homicides and unintentional injury deaths are down.

The bad news is that suicide is an increasingly common cause of fatal injury and that young Alaskans between ages 15 and 34 make up the group most likely to die or be hospitalized.

Other points in the report: 

• After cancers and diseases of the heart, accidental death was the third most common cause of death among Alaskans.

• Between 2005 and 2009, the most common causes of death were suicide (721); accidental poisonings, including drug overdoes (494); motor vehicle accidents (444); homicides (170) and other transportation injuries (150).

• Rural residents succumbed to unintentional injury more often than their urban counterparts, due in part to the fact they have less access to medical care.

• The breath-alcohol level of drivers involved in fatal crashes has declined fairly consistently since 2000. Far fewer of these drivers had breath-alcohol contents higher than 0.08.