Ohio Injuries: Suffocation

Injuries are a leading cause of death and disability among children 0-4 years of age in Ohio. Not only are injuries the leading cause of death for this age group, but non-fatal injuries have considerable long-term medical and economic consequences. Increased efforts to prevent injuries to children are necessary as the number of injuries continues to rise. The following data come from the Injury in Ohio report.*

Health Care Resource Utilization

  • From 2005 through 2007, injuries due to suffocation resulted in an annual average of:
    • 1,013 Emergency Department Visits
    • 654 EMS Runs
    • 388 Inpatient Hospitalizations
    • 608 Fatalities

  • The number of emergency department visits increased 48.3% from 2005 to 2007
  • 26.4% of suffocation injuries requiring emergency treatment occurred among children ages 0-4 years, followed closely by adults ages 25-44 years (21.5%)
  • 62.5% of suffocation injuries requiring a visit to the emergency department were unintentional in nature, while another 26.7% were considered self-inflicted, and 9.3% were the result of assault
  • Children ages 0-4 years accounted for 42.1% of unintentional suffocation injuries, while young adults ages 15-24 years accounted for 34.9% of self-inflicted and 36.8% of assault-related suffocation injuries requiring emergency treatment

  • Unintentional and self-inflicted suffocation injuries occurred more often among males (53.3% and 77.1%, respectively), while suffocation injuries due to assault were more common among females (73.1%)


  • Suffocation-related hospitalizations from 2005 to 2007 accounted for an annual average of:
    • $8.1 million in hospital charges
    • 1,712 days of hospitalization
  • Mean length of stay was 4.4 days

  • 60.4% of suffocation-related hospitalizations were due to unintentional injuries, while another 37.1% were self-inflicted

  • The number of hospitalizations due to suffocation increased by 39.5% from 2005 to 2007
  • Suffocation injuries resulting in hospitalization were most common among adults ages 65 years or older (26.5%), adults ages 25-44 years (19.5%) and adults ages 45-64 years (17.3%).  Children ages 0-4 years accounted for another 13.2% of suffocation-related inpatient hospitalizations


  • Males accounted for 67.6% of suffocation-related fatalities
  • Unintentional death by suffocation was more common among children ages 0-4 years and adults age 65 years or older, while suicide was more common among young adults ages 15-24 years and adults ages 25-64 years

*Data for this report were obtained from the Ohio Department of Public Safety, the Ohio Hospital Association and the Ohio Department of Health. This research brief is part of a series reporting on leading causes of injury among selected age groups in Ohio.