Suicide is the cause of more deaths than car crashes, according to an alarming new study.
The number of people who commit suicide in the U.S. has drastically increased while deaths from car accidents have dropped, making suicide the leading cause of injury death.
Suicides via falls or poisoning have risen significantly and experts fear that there could be many more unaccounted for, particularly in cases of overdose.
Shocking trend: While the number of Americans killed in car crashes has declined over the last decade, the suicide rate has increased
'Suicides are terribly under-counted,' said Ian Rockett, author of the study, published on Thursday in the American Journal of Public Health.
'I think the problem is much worse than official data would lead us to believe. We have a situation that has gotten out of hand.'
He added that his goal is to see the same attention paid to other injuries as has been paid to reducing the number of deaths in traffic accidents.
The results were compiled using National Center for Health Statistics data gathered from 2000 to 2009.
Researchers noted a 25 per cent decrease in fatal car accidents, medicalxpress.com reported, while deaths from falls rose 71 per cent, poisoning 128 per cent and from suicide 15 per cent.
Higher automobile standards were credited for the decrease in deaths on the road, with harsher penalties for underage drinking and failing to wear seat belts named as contributing factors.
Previous research has suggested that suicide rates go up during recessions and times of economic crisis.
'Economic problems can impact how people feel about themselves and their futures as well as their relationships with family and friends,' Feijun Luo of CDC’s Division of Violence Prevention told Bloomberg.
'Prevention strategies can focus on individuals, families, neighborhoods or entire communities to reduce risk factors.'
Suicide is now the most frequent cause of injury deaths, followed by car crashes, poisoning, falls and murder.