A profile of the fatal injury mortalities and suicides among children and youth in the stellenbosch district

Simmons, Candice (2008-12)

Thesis (MA (Psychology))--Stellenbosch University, 2008.


South Africa’s violence and injury death rates pandemic are steadily growing. Global estimates reported by the World Health Organisation (2000) have revealed that there is an increase in worldwide deaths. Approximately 5 million people die as a result of injuries each year and hundreds of thousands more are left physically or psychologically scarred (World Health Organisation, 2000). There are alarmingly high incidences of violence, crime and injury deaths in South Africa and the impact of these injury fatalities is imposing an immense burden on government, communities, families and even individuals. The burden of fatal injury mortalities has not fallen evenly. In South Africa, low socio-economic communities have borne the brunt of this epidemic. This study presents a focus on mortality and injury patterns and emerging problem areas for children and youth in a peri-urban setting. The aim of this study was to provide an overview of the fatal injury mortality and suicide data of children and youth in the Stellenbosch district, in order to develop a comprehensive understanding of the problem areas of injury deaths such as the main causes and consequences and age, sex, race and other pertinent comparisons. The study also aimed to consider the impact and relationship between alcohol abuse and youth injury deaths. Mortuary data were compiled from 591 children and youth cases for the period 2001-2005 in the Stellenbosch district using the National Injury Mortality Surveillance System data form. The present study highlighted several key findings. Transport-related deaths were indicated as a serious cause for concern among both children and youth in peri-urban settings. The importance of specific road safety awareness initiatives within peri-urban areas and among specific age groups were also indicated. Violence-related deaths were determined to be a leading cause of death among the older age groups in the youth category, with sharp force objects being the leading external cause of violent deaths. This highlighted an additional key finding reporting that sharp force objects death are a more serious cause for concern than firearm deaths in peri-urban areas, which challenges previous urban data. vi Burns and drowning were indicated as pertinent cause of unintentional deaths among both children and youth within peri-urban areas. This was suggested to be due to the high use of paraffin enabled heating systems in house in peri-urban areas and the lack of safety surrounding materials such as matches in the home. In addition, suffocation deaths among infants were also identified as a concern. Furthermore, the link between alcohol abuse among the youth age group was indicated by a key finding that alcohol is a prominent risk factor for fatal injury mortalities among youth. However more studies are needed to explore the effects and risks of other substances on youth fatal injury deaths. Several implications of the research findings are identified for health care professionals, policy developers, government departments and non-government organisations to consider in reducing the mortality rates of children and youth. These implications are critical in informing preventative interventions and initiatives aimed at enhancing safety to children and youth living in peri-urban areas within South Africa. vii

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