Published: 30 December 2013

Three out of four of those who died from stumbles were aged over 70

According to Statistics Finland's statistics on causes of death, a total of 1,156 persons died as a result of accidental stumbles and falls in 2012, 609 men and 547 women. The cases have increased in absolute numbers by 40 per cent in the past twenty years. In addition, stumbling or falling was a contributing factor in over 800 deaths. Three-quarters of stumbles resulting in death occurred to persons aged over 70.

Deaths caused by accidental stumbles or falls in 1982 to 2012

Deaths caused by accidental stumbles or falls in 1982 to 2012

Accidental stumbles and falls resulting in death are rare among young people aged under 30. In the past few years, less than ten such cases have occurred per year. In 2012, one-fifth of those who died as a result of stumbling were aged 40 to 69. Among this age group, eight out of ten victims of stumbling accidents were men and over one-third were intoxicated. A majority of accidental stumbles resulting in death occurred to persons aged over 70. In absolute numbers, more deaths among aged people occurred for women than for men. Relative to the number of living women and men, there were more stumbles resulting in death in relative terms among aged men than among women. Stumbles are the commonest cause of accidental deaths among aged persons and they cause more deaths per year than, for example, suicides.

Around half of stumbling accidents took place inside the home or in its immediate vicinity, and one-fifth in care institutions. Altogether, 902 stumbling accidents resulting in death occurred for people aged over 70 and of these 505 took place in the home and 242 in care institutions. According to the data collected from death certificates, stumbles and falls were also a contributing factor in the deaths of 770 aged persons even though the actual cause of death in the death certificate was recoded as something else. Typical injuries caused by stumbling and leading to death were intracranial injuries and femur fractures.

Age distribution of persons that died from accidental stumbles or falls in 2012

Age distribution of persons that died from accidental stumbles or falls in 2012

Dementia mortality has increased by 40 per cent in the past five years

Altogether 51,737 persons died in 2012. The number is over two per cent higher than twelve months earlier. The longer life expectancy is visible in the age distribution of deaths. Nearly two out of three of the deceased were over 75 and every third person was over 85. Increased mortality of aged people is visible in causes of death primarily as a growing number of deaths from dementia and diseases of the circulatory system.

Altogether, 39 per cent of deaths in 2012 were caused by diseases of the circulatory system. The second highest number of deaths, 23 per cent, were caused by neoplasms. Dementia (inclusive of Alzheimer's disease) caused 14 per cent of deaths in 2012. The share of dementia as a cause of death has increased quickly over the past few years. By contrast, the number of suicides decreased further in 2012. In 2012, 873 persons committed suicides, which is 39 persons fewer than in the previous year. The figure was at its highest in 1990, when there were over 1,500 suicides in Finland. The decrease in the number of alcohol-related deaths that had continued for a few years made an upturn in 2012. The number of alcohol-related deaths grew by close on four per cent from 2011. Nearly 2,000 persons died of alcohol-related reasons and a majority of them, three out of four, were men.

Causes of death 2012 (time series classification)

  Total Males Females Total Males Females
Number Number Number % % %
Diseases of the circulatory system 20 210 9 691 10 519 39 38 40
Neoplasms 12 070 6 326 5 744 23 25 22
Dementia, Alzheimer's disease 7 056 2 153 4 903 14 8 19
Accidents 2 273 1 426 847 4 6 3
Disease of the respiratory system 2 026 1 238 788 4 5 3
Alcohol related diseases and accidental poisoning by alcohol 1 960 1 518 442 4 6 2
Suicides 873 655 218 2 3 1
Other causes of death 5 269 2 639 2 630 10 10 10
Deaths total 51 737 25 646 26 091 100 100 100

Source: Causes of death, Statistics Finland

Inquiries: Airi Pajunen 09 1734 3605, Kati Taskinen 09 1734 3297,

Director in charge: Riitta Harala

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Updated 30.12.2013

Referencing instructions:

Official Statistics of Finland (OSF): Causes of death [e-publication].
ISSN=1799-5078. 2012. Helsinki: Statistics Finland [referred: 31.1.2015].
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