Published: 30 December 2016

The number of suicides decreased further in 2015

According to Statistics Finland’s statistics on causes of death, altogether 731 suicides were committed in Finland in 2015, which is around 60 fewer than in the year before. Suicide mortality has decreased by 40 per cent in fifteen years. Suicides have decreased most among men aged 35 to 44. However, men still committed clearly more suicides than women: of those who committed suicide, three out of four were men. Most suicides in relative terms were committed by men aged 45 to 54 and aged 75 or over.

Suicide mortality 1970 to 2015

Suicide mortality 1970 to 2015

The number of suicides has decreased clearly from the top figures of 1990, when there were over 1,500 suicides in Finland. Since then, suicide mortality has decreased almost continuously according to statistics. In 2015, suicide mortality was 40 per cent lower than 15 years ago. However, nearly three times as many persons died of suicides than in traffic accidents. In 2015, among one hundred thousand Finns, 13 committed suicide (21 among men and six among women).

Most suicides in relative terms were committed by men aged 45 to 54 and aged 75 or over

The relative number of suicides has decreased since 2000 in all age groups. Among men, suicide mortality decreased most in the age group 35 to 44 and least in the age group 55 to 64. Differences between age groups in suicide mortality have narrowed. In 2015, most suicides per 100,000 inhabitants were committed by men aged 45 to 54 and aged 75 or over. Among women, suicide mortality was highest in the age group 45 to 54 and lowest in the age group 15 to 24. The median average age of men who committed suicide was 48 years and of women 51 years.

Men’s suicide mortality by age group in 2000 and 2015

Men’s suicide mortality by age group in 2000 and 2015

In 2015, the share of suicides in all causes of death was only one per cent. However, suicides are a central cause of death for young people. One in three persons aged 20 to 29 that died had committed suicide and one in six of those aged 35 to 44. The share of suicides in causes of death for young people is high because other mortality among young people is low. One in ten of all those having committed a suicide was a young person aged under 25 and one in five was aged over 65.

Despite the downward trend in suicide mortality, Finland is still an exception among Nordic and western countries. According to Eurostat’s statistics, the suicide mortality in Finland of the population aged under 65 was around 1.5 times higher than the EU average in 2013. By contrast, for persons aged 65 and over, suicide mortality in Finland did not differ from the EU average.

One in five of women and one in ten of men died from dementia

In 2015, altogether 52,300 persons died. The average age at death (median) was 85 years for women and 76 years for men. In 2015, thirty-seven per cent of all deaths were caused by diseases of the circulatory system and 24 per cent by neoplasms. The most common disease of the circulatory system was ischaemic heart disease, which caused around one-fifth of all deaths. The most common types of cancer leading to death for men were lung cancer and prostate cancer, and correspondingly for women breast cancer and lung cancer.

Altogether 8,600 persons died from dementia, including Alzheimer's disease, which represented 16 per cent of all deaths. The number of deaths caused by dementia has grown rapidly in the past decade partly due to the ageing of the population. One in five deaths among women and one in ten deaths among men were caused by dementia. More than double the amount of women die of dementia than the amount of men, which is mainly because women live longer than men. There are no clear differences in age-standardised dementia mortality among genders (Figure 5).

Number of persons that died from alcohol-related causes decreased from 2014

Close on 1,700 persons died of alcohol-related diseases and alcohol poisonings in 2015, which is nearly 200 lower than in the previous year. The share of alcohol-related causes in all deaths was three per cent. The majority of those dying of alcohol, three out of four, were men. Persons who died from alcohol-related causes are older than before. During the past ten years, mortality from alcohol among both men and women aged 65 or over has grown while in younger age groups it has decreased. The median average age of both men and women in alcohol-related causes of death was 61 years.

In 2015, nearly 2,200 persons died of accidents, being four per cent of deaths, when alcohol poisonings are included in alcohol-related deaths in the time series classification. The number of fatalities from accidents was 65 fewer than in the year before. The number of deaths from accidents has slowly and almost continuously fallen since 2004, when 2,600 persons died from accidents.

Causes of death 2015

54–group time series classification Total Males Females Total Males Females
Number Number Number % % %
27–30 Diseases of the circulatory system 19 365 9 471 9 894 37 37 37
04–22 Neoplasms 12 481 6 623 5 858 24 26 22
25 Dementia, Alzheimer's disease 8 580 2 717 5 863 16 10 22
42–49 Accidents 2 161 1 354 807 4 5 3
41 Alcohol related diseases and accidental poisoning by alcohol 1 666 1 288 378 3 5 1
31–35 Disease of the respiratory system 1 940 1 158 782 4 4 3
50 Suicides 731 558 173 1 2 1
Other causes of death 5 378 2 725 2 663 10 10 10
01–54 Deaths total 52 302 25 884 26 418 100 100 100

Source: Causes of death, Statistics Finland

Inquiries: Airi Pajunen 029 551 3605, Jari Hellanto 029 551 3291, kuolemansyyt@stat.fi

Director in charge: Jari Tarkoma

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Updated 30.12.2016

Referencing instructions:

Official Statistics of Finland (OSF): Causes of death [e-publication].
ISSN=1799-5078. 2015. Helsinki: Statistics Finland [referred: 24.9.2017].
Access method: http://www.stat.fi/til/ksyyt/2015/ksyyt_2015_2016-12-30_tie_001_en.html

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