Sharp object fatalities in East London: a descriptive study
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Data from the National Injury Mortality Surveillance System (NIMSS) show that homicide is the major cause of death with firearms and sharp objects as the main external causes of death in South Africa. The current study is a descriptive study, describing the epidemiology of sharp object fatalities in the city of East London (also known as Buffalo City) in South Africa. It is a secondary data analysis of mortuary data collected by morticians trained in data collection methods according to World Health Organisation standards. This descriptive study aimed to develop the profile of sharp object fatalities in East London. Most of the findings were consistent with other literature on sharp object violence/homicide and on homicide in general using rates per population denominator data. It also combined variables to arrive at more complex descriptions. The following risk factors were identified: male, between the ages 30-34, being from a disadvantaged population group, alcohol consumption, weekend, between the times 20h00 and 23h59 and if we discount the place of death, 'unknown' then the greatest percentage of deaths occurred in a private house. The results were interpreted within an ecological and contextual theoretical framework to hypothesize possible etiological factors. The conclusion was that there were multiple variables which all interact and influence one another across all ecological levels and as other studies have recommended, this study too also recommends that more work is needed in order to identify the multiple pathways leading to fatalities, perhaps by way of multivariate studies as well as qualitative studies with perpetrators of sharp object fatalities.