Myers and her colleagues analyzed 1,295,919 injury deaths that occurred between 1999 and 2006 and found that the risk was 22% higher in the most rural counties than in the most urban. The most common causes of injury death were motor vehicle crashes, leading to 27.61 deaths per 100,000 people in most rural areas and 10.58 per 100,000 in most urban areas.
Firearm-related deaths statistics were not much different in rural and urban areas for the entire population. However, when age subgroups were examined, firearm-related deaths were significantly higher in rural areas for children and people 45 years and older. For people aged 20–44, the firearm-related death risk was significantly lower in rural areas.
Myers says the risk of homicide is higher in big cities, but the risk of unintentional death is 40% higher in most rural areas when compared with their urban counterparts. "And overall, the rate of unintentional injury dwarfs the risk of homicide, with the rate of unintentional injury more than 15 times that of homicide among the entire population," Myers says. "The unintentional injuries are what are driving the whole thing. The unintentional injuries are so much higher than homicides and suicides in the rural areas than in urban."
While the study uncovered surprising findings, Myers says she can only speculate as to the reasons why. We've all heard about that "golden hour" of access to medical care after a traumatic injury that can mean the difference between life and death. Was that a factor?