Press Release: Think Before Acting Risky

This week, the Estonian Health Insurance Fund launched the campaign “A reckless action can change your life. Forever. What is the formula of your life?”, focusing on prevention of injuries and poisonings. The aim of the information campaign to motivate people, mostly youngsters, to care for their own and their friends' life and health, analyze the health risks of reckless actions and draw attention to problems related to injuries.

A total of 1,278 people died of injuries and poisonings in Estonia in 2009. More than a hundred of them were young people aged 15-24 years, most of them young men. Injuries and poisonings make up nearly 2/3 of all causes of death among young people.

More than 150,000 people needed treatment due to injuries and poisonings last year; the treatment costs amounted to over 400 million kroons. The largest share of those individuals belonged to the age group of 15-24 years - ca 20,000 young men and 10,000 young women in 2009. Half of the injuries among young people needing treatment were caused by falling. Every month, more than 1000 young individuals between 15 and 24 years need medical care because of falling. In severe cases, the treatment may last for several weeks or months and the treatment costs may amount to 200 - 300 thousand kroons. 

“Injuries usually occur under the combined effect of a certain situation and certain circumstances,” said Sirje Vaask, chief coordinator of the campaign and chief specialist of healthcare at the Health Insurance Fund. “Young people value their independence and their friends highly, but their decisions are not always reasoned enough. Thoughtless exceeding of the speed limit, jumping head first into water at an unfamiliar place, climbing to dangerous places, pulling tricks together with friends,” told Vaask. “Risky behaviour can be triggered by the friends’ appreciation of such behaviour. When alcohol is also involved, the sense of reality is blurred and people fail to perceive the dangerousness of their actions. When a situation seems to be dangerous and out of control, one must find the inner strength to interfere decisively – to say “no” and forbid friends to risk their lives,” Vaask pointed out.

Both, a safe environment and the general attitude of the local population and one's acquaintances to health matters are important when it comes to preventing injuries. For several years, the Health Insurance Fund has supported projects for prevention of leisure injuries in all counties of Estonia, which launch the necessary actions on the local level by following the principles of “Safe Home Area”. Starting from this academic year, school nurses will also teach practical first aid at schools.

The campaign for preventing injuries among young people is organised by the Health Insurance Fund as a part of implementing the “National Health Plan 2010-2020.”