New Mexico Department of Health
Our mission is to promote health and wellness, improve health outcomes, and assure safety net services for all people in New Mexico.

Injury Prevention Program

Photo of a child putting on a bicycle helmet.

Injuries are the leading cause of death among people ages 1 to 44 in New Mexico. Each day an average of 5 people die from injuries, another 40 are hospitalized due to injuries, more than 700 are seen in emergency departments, and more than 2,000 visit other health care facilities for treatment of their injuries.

Injuries can be intentional or unintentional. Intentional injuries are inflicted by people on others--usually through violence. Domestic violence, sexual assault, and gun violence are all intentional injuries with a victimizer and a victim. Examples of unintended injuries include motor vehicle crashes, poisoning (from legal and illegal drugs), and falls (usually associated with the older population).

Injuries exact a tremendous toll on our state’s families and our state’s resources. The financial cost of injury amounts to more than $4 billion a year in New Mexico, and the emotional costs are impossible to measure. The only greater tragedy than the pain and suffering caused by injuries is that most are preventable.

Our program is working to reduce injuries by:

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Table of Contents

Our Structure

Office of Injury Prevention is part of the Injury & Behavioral Epidemiology Bureau and the Epidemiology and Response Division. The Bureau is committed to all aspects of injury prevention including surveillance, analysis of data, reporting, dissemination of reports on injury, and promotion of evidence-based policies and programs.

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Injury Prevention Unit

The Injury Prevention Unit focuses on promoting evidence-based prevention strategies and promising practices, coalition building, and offering technical assistance to community members working on injury prevention education and policy.

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Childhood Injury Prevention

Includes the promotion of policies and programs that support the prevention of motor vehicle injury, non-motorized vehicle injury, pedestrian injury, day care injury, school injury, and sports injury. Prevention Strategies: Development of nonprofit, public agency, school and internet-based curriculum and materials for parents, youth, community educators, health care professionals, home and commercial day care providers, policemen, firemen and home visitation specialists; technical support of state/local coalitions, boards and other organizations involved in childhood injury prevention, including the New Mexico SAFE KIDS Coalition, the New Mexico Helmets for Kids Coalition, and the Off Highway Vehicle Safety Board; sharing of evidence-based prevention programs, research, networking, and funding opportunities for childhood injury prevention programs.

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Youth Injury Prevention

Includes the promotion of programs and policies focusing on the prevention of motor vehicle injuries, physical assault at schools and in the community, gun violence, suicide, homicide, alcohol-related injuries, and drug-induced poisoning. Prevention Strategies: Development of internet-based resources, databases, and e-courses for youth injury prevention programs; strategic planning for programs working with youth (ages 14-24), parents, community educators, health care professionals, and juvenile justice staff; technical support of state and local coalitions and organizations involved in youth injury prevention; sharing of evidence-based prevention programs and policies, research, networking, and funding opportunities for youth injury prevention programs.

Prevention activities also include the development and management of the five-year youth injury prevention initiative the Valencia County Resiliency Corps. The Corps focuses on community mobilizing around youth injury prevention and the strengthening of youth resiliency factors in the pilot site of Valencia County, the offering of a hybrid (web-based and classroom instruction) UNM Valencia course Youth Safety, Health and Resiliency, ongoing assessment and capacity building.

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Core Injury Specialist and Prescription Drug Overdose Prevention

This position supports “core” capacity building and surveillance activities to prevent and control both intentional and unintentional injuries through three primary objectives: build a solid infrastructure for injury prevention and control throughout the state; collect, analyze, use and disseminate injury data; implement and evaluate prevention strategies. Prevention Strategies adoption and implementation of the New Mexico Injury Prevention Strategic Plan; provide statewide technical assistance to the New Mexico Injury Prevention Coalition and the Injury Policy Sub-Committee: promote implementation of culturally appropriate best and promising practices for injury prevention; share injury prevention research, training events, and funding opportunities; facilitate networking and collaboration across injury disciplines.

The position includes the promotion of programs and policies focusing on the prevention of drug-induced poisoning, including illicit and prescription drugs.

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Adult and Older Injury Prevention

Includes the promotion of programs and policies that support the prevention of adult and older adult injury, violence and substance abuse including: motor vehicle crashes, drug overdose, sexual assault, homicide, suicide, senior falls, older adult suicide, and older adult abuse.

Prevention Strategies: Adoption and implementation of the Falls Free: National Action Plan; providing statewide coordination of the Adult Falls Prevention Coalition; sharing of evidence-based prevention programs, research, networking, and funding opportunities for adult injury prevention programs.

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Violence Prevention

Includes the promotion of programs and policies focusing on the prevention of sexual violence, child sexual abuse, intimate partner violence, teen dating violence, bullying, and hazing. The coordinator collaborates with members of the prevention teen focusing on all age groups.

Prevention Strategies: Serving as liaison between NMDOH and other collaborative teams, including the New Mexico Coalition of Sexual Assault Programs, the Intimate Partner Violence Homicide Review Team, the Violence Against Women Act STOP Grant Implementation Team, the Coordinated Community Response team in Santa Fe, and others to increase collaboration and coordination of Office of Injury Prevention activities with other groups; overseeing the CDC Rape Prevention and Education Cooperative Agreement and State special appropriations; providing technical support to organizations serving educators, parents, youth, people with disabilities, Native Americans, and service providers.

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Injury Epidemiology Unit

Epidemiology is the study of factors affecting the health and illness of a population. It serves as the foundation and logic of interventions made in the interest of public health and injury prevention. Understanding who is being injured informs prevention programming and policy. The Epidemiology Unit gathers information on the “who, when, and where” of injury occurrence. It analyzes data, identifies trends, makes comparisons, and prepares reports.

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Injury Epidemiology

Data collection, analysis, reporting, and dissemination of reports on injury death and hospitalization data of New Mexico residents by cause of unintentional injuries including: falls, motor vehicle crashes, poisoning, drowning, fire, firearms; by cause of intentional injury including suicides and homicides; and mechanism of intentional injury including firearms, poisoning, etc. The nature of injury, including traumatic brain injuries and hip fractures from death and hospitalization data, are also analyzed. Detailed analysis of falls among the older adult population is being conducted.

Collection and maintenance of the main injury databases of the program, analysis of data, reporting, and dissemination of reports on injury death and hospitalization data of New Mexico residents by cause of unintentional injuries. Development of the electronic interfaces to transfer data elements from source data files into the New Mexico Violent Death Reporting System and Child Fatality Review database in collaboration with data source agencies.

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Violent Death Reporting System

The New Mexico Violent Death Reporting System is a population-based surveillance system that collects and links data from several different sources including death certificates, autopsy reports, law enforcement reports and crime lab traces on weapons, on all resident and non-resident violence deaths that occur in New Mexico in order to promote evidence-based programs and policies for the prevention of suicide, homicide and firearm-related death.

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Child Fatality Review

The New Mexico Child Fatality Review brings together multidisciplinary teams of experts from professional and community agencies to systematically evaluate information on child death events and identify risk factors in these deaths. It focuses on systems changes that lead to greater collaborative efforts and improvements in child health and safety. Cases are groups by the type of death events and reviewed accordingly by the following panels: deaths from accidents other than transportation and including Sudden Unexpected Infant Death (SUID/SIDS), child abuse and neglect, homicide, suicide, and transportation.

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Prevention Terms & Strategies

The following definitions include evidence-based strategies that communities can consider as part of their injury prevention work.

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Alcohol Use and Related Injuries

Excessive alcohol use is often a factor in injury and death resulting from motor vehicle crashes, inter-personal and self-inflicted violence, falls, drug overdose, and a variety of other injury causes. Binge drinking (drinking 5 or more drinks during a single occasion for men or 4 or more drinks during a single occasion for women) is strongly associated with increased risk of injury and death from these causes. Excessive alcohol use is also associated with a host of other social problems, including violence, infectious disease, crime, and mental illness. Reducing the prevalence of binge drinking is an important public health goal intended to decrease the overall burden of alcohol-related injury and death. Alcohol use – particularly binge drinking – is especially risky to underage drinkers. The three leading causes of death in the underage population – motor vehicle crashes, homicide, and suicide — are all strongly associated with alcohol use. Reducing access to alcohol by underage persons is an important public health goal.

In general, prevention strategies that have been effective include:

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Drug-Induced Poisoning

Prescription, over-the-counter drugs, and illegal drugs temporarily alter a person’s perception and emotional state. Wide promotion by pharmaceutical companies, access to drugs, and easy availability through Mexico increases drugs' availability and makes misuse easier. Well-established distribution networks for illegal drugs exist throughout the state.

In general, prevention strategies that have been effective include:

Please visit the Opioid Safety section of our website to learn more.

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A fall can cause serious injury. Younger (ages 1-4) and older (over 65) populations are most at risk from fall-related injuries. For young children, a child-safe home, play, and school environment are key. Older adults also need safe living environments. Serious fall-related injuries have both a physical and emotional impact on the older person.

Generally accepted prevention strategies include:

Please visit the Older Adult Falls section of our website to learn more.

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Firearm Injuries

Firearm-related injury is one of the leading causes of injury and death among young people. In general, prevention strategies that have been effective include:

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Intimate Partner Violence and Teen Dating Violence

Intimate partner violence includes physical assault and intimidation between two people in a relationship. Teen dating violence refers to intimidation and physical violence between young people in a relationship. Intimate partner violence and teen dating violence can be described as a pattern of behaviors, including physical, sexual, and psychological attacks, as well as economic coercion, that adults or adolescents use against their partners. The violence may or may not be sexual in nature. The violence is used by the victimizer to control and disempower the victim. Victims can be male or female—though most victimizers are male. The violence or threats of violence can be sporadic or a daily or weekly occurrence. The victim is often torn between feelings of attachment to her or his partner, and feelings of fear. The victim may be economically dependent on the victimizer. The violence and control instigated by the victimizer results in both emotional and physical harm. The damage done by intimidation and violence can have a long-lasting impact on the victim. Parents of teens, friends of teens, school staff, neighbors, and extended family members need to be vigilant and report suspected partner violence.

Interventions may include:

Prevention strategies, seen as promising practice, include: educational programs for youth about emotional health, healthy relationships, self-worth, anger management, and related mental health issues.

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Motor Vehicle Injury

Motor vehicle crashes are the number one cause of injury and injury-related death in NM. Vehicles include cars, trucks, motorcycles, motor scooters, all-terrain vehicles, off-road motorcycles, miniature motorcycles and snowmobiles. Alcohol-impaired driving are a contributing factor in many motor vehicle crashes.

Generally accepted prevention strategies involve a comprehensive use of numerous laws and policies including:

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Protective Factors & Risk Factors

Studies have looked at the lives of children to see which factors strengthened and empowered young people to lead healthy lives. These are called protective factors (or resiliency factors). The same studies also noted which factors put young people at risk for violence, drug abuse and other unhealthy behaviors. These are called risk factors. Protective factors can be found in both the child’s home and community, including the school.

Protective factors in the family include:

Protective factors in the community include:

Children are often exposed to a mix of protective factors and risk factors. The factors may change over time. The more protective factors in a child’s life, the better chance for the child’s safety and healthy development.

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School and Community-based Harassment and Violence

Harassment and bullying can include: threats of physical assault (hitting, tripping, pushing), name-calling, cyberbullying (threats via the Internet and texting), and intimidation. The use of weapons represents the most serious form of bullying and harassment. Harassment (including sexual harassment) and bullying can escalate to serious physical injuries, and students no longer learn at school.

Prevention strategies may include:

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Sexual Violence

Sexual violence is any kind of unwanted interpersonal sexual behavior. This can include verbal harassment, rape, sexual abuse, incest, and sexual assault. Most perpetrators of sexual violence know their victims. The survivor may be in an intimate relationship with the perpetrator and feel too embarrassed, frightened, or disempowered to ask for help. Sexual violence can be directed at people of any age, race, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity and socio-economic class. Reported cases of sexual violence indicate that most of the survivors are female and most perpetrators are male. The sexual violence can result in psychological, emotional and physical harm. The damage done by sexual violence can have a long-lasting impact on the survivor and their family and friends.

Strategies to consider, if part of a comprehensive plan, could provide effective interventions:

Please visit the Sexual Violence Prevention section of our website to learn more.

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People threaten and attempt to take their lives for many reasons. Too often, they are successful. Both verbal threats to commit suicide and actual suicide attempts can be seen as calls for help. More than 90% of suicide victims have a diagnosable psychiatric illness, most commonly a mood disorder. Other common conditions include schizophrenia, alcohol abuse/dependence, substance use disorders, and personality disorders. Depression, which can lead to suicidal feelings, can be the result of both biological and environmental factors.

The reasons for suicide attempts may change over a person’s lifetime. Research cannot capture all the causes for suicide but some contributing factors include: lack of healthy emotional connection with friends, family or other caring adults; misuse or abuse of alcohol and other substances, a prolonged sense of hopelessness, despair, and depression; and lack of access to mental health services. Other risk factors include experiencing a recent painful event (such as job loss or loss of loved one), chronic medical illness, and a family history of suicide attempts or completions. In general, suicide prevention strategies that have been shown to be effective focus on targeting high risk individuals with brief behavioral and supportive interventions.

Prevention Strategies include:

Strategies to consider, if part of a comprehensive plan, that could reduce the stigma of suicide and mental illness: Public education programs on emotional health, coping strategies, signs of depression, and warning signs of suicide for youth, parents, educators, and health care providers.

Please visit the Suicide Prevention section of our website to learn more.

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New Mexico Injury Prevention Coalition

The goal of the New Mexico Injury Prevention Coalition (NMIPC) is to reduce the burden of injury in New Mexico through the development of a diverse coalition charged with reaching consensus on priority areas in injury prevention, promoting best practices and interventions, and improving resource sustainability. Instead of working in isolation, injury prevention professionals can find support, professional development opportunities, access to research and updates on funding opportunities through the Coalition.

The Coalition is guided by the goals and objectives of the New Mexico Injury Prevention Strategic Plan 2008-2012, developed with funding from the Centers for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC) and input from injury prevention professionals throughout the state. The strategic planning process was led by the Department of Health’s Office of Injury Prevention and facilitated by the University of New Mexico Prevention Research Center.

The Strategic Plan focuses on increasing the capacity to prevent injuries in New Mexico through:

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Creating a Statewide Network

Injury prevention crosses many disciplines — community organizations, schools, advocacy groups, public safety, the faith community, city planning departments, parks and recreation departments, safety coalitions and government agencies, to name a few. Building a strong, interdisciplinary network is of primary importance to the Coalition as it strengthens members work in their communities and across the state.

Leadership for the Coalition is provided by a chair, chair-elect and a 10-member steering committee. The Coalition’s work groups are designed to implement the goals of the Strategic Plan.

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Coalition Leadership

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Benefits of Membership

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Membership Application

Membership is free but a membership application is required. For more information please contact Kim Faulkner at 505-827-2708.

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