What are Injuries?

Injuries are not "accidents." They are predictable and preventable events! An injury is defined as any unintentional or intentional damage to the body resulting from acute exposure to thermal, mechanical, electrical, or chemical energy or the absence of such elements as heat or oxygen. It includes self-inflicted damage and damage done by one person to another.

Unintentional injuries are those that have previously, and incorrectly, been thought of as "accidents." Generally, they include injuries that are motor vehicle related, falls, poisonings, drownings, fire and burns, and others. Intentional injuries involve suicide, homicide, assault, abuse, and other violent acts.

The Problem of Injuries

Injuries are a leading cause of death and disability nationwide and are a major contributor to health care costs. Injuries (including "accidents," suicides, and homicides) are the leading cause of death among Massachusetts residents ages 1-44, and the fourth leading cause of death among all age groups combined.

In 2005, there were 2,657 injury deaths among Massachusetts residents. The leading cause of these deaths was poisoning, which included drug overdoses, accounting for 30 percent (1 in 3) injury deaths in the state. These deaths are just the tip of a much larger problem. In 2005, there were over 65,000 hospital stays and over 705,000 emergency department visits associated with nonfatal injury. The leading causes of these nonfatal injury events were falls, poisonings, sports, and transportation-related injuries.

Suicides account for over 400 injury deaths to Massachusetts residents each year. In addition, there are over 10,000 hospital stays and emergency department visits combined for nonfatal self-inflicted injuries.


This information is provided by the Injury Prevention and Control Program within the Department of Public Health.