Age and Cause

The graph below depicts U.S. deaths and death rates per 100,000 population for the six leading causes of unintentional injury-related deaths in 2020 by age, through age 99. Additional years of data are also available (see Using the Charts and Tables).

  • Chart
  • Data Table
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CAUSES BY RANK

#1: Poisoning: 87,386 deaths

  • Average of 26.5 deaths per 100,000 population
  • Rate increased steadily from about age 15 to its peak of 55.2 at age 39
  • Leading cause of preventable death for all ages combined for the eighth consecutive year
  • Leading cause of preventable death for every age from 22 to 67
  • Largely due to the opioid epidemic affecting millions of people in the United States
  • On an average day, 175 people die from preventable poisonings due to opioid drugs

 

#2: Motor-vehicle crashes: 42,336 deaths

  • Average rate of 12.9 deaths per 100,000 population
  • Death rate peaks at 21.6 for 21-year-olds and again at 21.7 for 87-year-olds
  • Leading cause of preventable death for every age from 4 to 21
  • Second leading cause of preventable death for every age from 22 to 67

 

#3: Falls: 42,113 deaths

  • Average rate of 11.4 deaths per 100,000 population
  • Beginning at about age 67, the death rate from falls increased dramatically
  • Surpassing the number of motor-vehicle and poisoning deaths at age 68 and remained higher throughout the lifespan, peaking at age 90
  • Death rate peaked at age 98, with a rate of 612.7 per 100,000 population

 

#4: Choking: 4,963 deaths

  • Average rate of 1.5 deaths per 100,000 population
  • Death rates due to choking on inhaled or ingested food or other objects were quite low for most ages
  • Rates rose rapidly beginning at about age 78

 

#5: Drowning: 4,176 deaths

  • Average rate of 1.3 deaths per 100,000 population
  • While relatively stable and low for all ages, the death rates for drowning showed peaks in the first few years of life and again at some very old ages
  • Leading cause of preventable death from age 1 through 3

 

#6: Fire, Flames or Smoke: 2,951 deaths

  • Average rate of 0.9 deaths per 100,000 population
  • Slightly elevated at very young ages; death rate peaked at age 85, with a rate of 4.8 per 100,000 population

Among infants younger than 1, mechanical suffocation was the leading cause of preventable-injury death, followed by motor-vehicle incidents. Drowning deaths were the leading cause of death from 1 to 3 years of age, closely followed by motor-vehicle.