Teens at Higher Risk of Dying than Children
Teenagers and young adults are more likely to die nowadays than children.
According to a study published on The Lancet, mortality rates in young people are now higher than in children below five years old. This was not the case half a century ago. In 1955, the 1-4 age group had the highest death rate.
Young men are especially at risk. The mortality rate of 15 to 24-year-old males is now two to three times higher than that of boys aged 1-4. Injury is identified as the leading cause of death. This could result from violence, road accidents and suicides.
The study used WHO data from 1955 to 2004 for 50 countries - rich, middle-income and poor.
The significant reduction of deaths among children, about 85-93 percent, reflects the progress in combating infectious diseases and improvements in child health. In contrast, the decline in death rates in young men was only at 41-48 percent.
"Modern life is much more toxic for teenagers and young people," Dr. Russell Viner of University College London said in a BBC report. "We've had rises in road traffic accidents, rises in violence, rises in suicide which we don't see in young children."
The study, however, doesn’t include the poorest countries in sub-Saharan Africa due to lack of available data.
"What is clear is that the greatest threats to young peoples' health, outside of living in extreme poverty and in 'hot zones' of infectious disease and war, stem from the behaviors in which young people engage, and the contexts in which they find themselves," Dr. Michael Resnick, co-author of the study, told the BBC.
Addressing this complex problem requires serious consideration of how we prioritize the mental health of young people and the psycho-social issues they face in light of rapid economic changes and modernization. It is as much of a tragedy when society manages to keep children alive only to let them die just as they are about to enter one of the most exciting time of their lives.