Mortality From Drug Overdoses, Homicides, Unintentional Injuries, Motor Vehicle Crashes, and Suicides During the Pandemic, March-August 2020 | Psychiatry and Behavioral Health | JAMA | JAMA Network
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    Research Letter
    May 21, 2021

    Mortality From Drug Overdoses, Homicides, Unintentional Injuries, Motor Vehicle Crashes, and Suicides During the Pandemic, March-August 2020

    Author Affiliations
    • 1Department of Emergency Medicine, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts
    • 2Center for Outcomes Research and Evaluation, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, Connecticut
    • 3Harvard Affiliated Emergency Medicine Residency, Boston, Massachusetts
    • 4Center for Outcomes Research and Evaluation, Yale New Haven Hospital, New Haven, Connecticut
    • 5Department of Health Policy and Management, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Boston, Massachusetts
    JAMA. Published online May 21, 2021. doi:10.1001/jama.2021.8012

    The initial COVID-19 outbreak in the US caused disruptions in usual behavioral patterns.1-3 To assess associated changes in external causes of death, we analyzed monthly trends from 2015 to 2020 in deaths resulting from drug overdoses, homicide, unintentional injuries, motor vehicle crashes, and suicide in the first 6 months of the pandemic.

    We measured monthly excess mortality (the gap between observed and expected deaths) from 5 external causes using provisional national-level underlying cause death certificate data published by the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) through August 2020 (released March 2021). Data from March to August 2020 were aggregated by the NCHS into 5 groups: drug overdose (all intents), assault (homicide), unintentional injuries, motor vehicle crashes, and intentional self-harm (suicide) (see the Supplement for ICD-10 codes).4,5