Published: 29 December 2017

Accidental and violent deaths have decreased by one-fifth in ten years

According to Statistics Finland's data, in 2016, good 3,400 persons died from accidents, suicides and violence, which was six per cent of all deaths. The number of deaths caused by these reasons has decreased by one-fifth in ten years. The main reasons for accidental and violent deaths are fatal stumbles, suicides and accidental poisonings.

Accidental or violent deaths 2005 to 2016

Accidental or violent deaths 2005 to 2016

Altogether, 54,000 Finnish people died in 2016. A majority of them died from diseases. In total, 3,400 persons died in accidents or as a result of violence, i.e. not natural causes.

In ten years, the share of persons dying from accidents, suicides and violence has decreased from nine to six per cent, and the number of persons dying in this manner has declined by one fifth. In absolute numbers, accidental alcohol and pharmaceutical poisonings, as well as suicides have decreased most.

In 2016, a total of 63 persons died as a result of homicide. The typical victim was a man aged 50 to 54. The number of persons who died from murder, manslaughter and assaults has declined by more than 40 per cent in ten years.

More men than women died in accidents, and as the result of suicides and violence

In 2016, two-thirds of those who died in accidents or as a result of violence were men. Among children and young people, slightly more boys than girls died of these reasons but the biggest differences were visible for middle-aged persons. Middle-aged men’s mortality from accidents and violence was clearly higher than that of women. In the age group of those aged over 85, more women than men died. However, relative to the number of living people, elderly men died more often than women in accidents or as a result of violence.

Women who died in accidents or as a result of violence were, on average, older than men: one in two women were aged 75 or over and one in four men. A majority of the accidents resulting in death of elderly people were stumbles and falls.

Accidental or violent deaths by gender and age 2016

Accidental or violent deaths by gender and age 2016

Share of suicides and accidental causes of death is higher for young people than in other age groups

In young age groups where disease mortality is low, the share of fatal accidents and suicides is as high as 70 to 80 per cent of all causes of death. The share decreases rapidly in older age groups and after the age of 60, the share of fatal accidents and suicides is only under ten per cent. The share of violent causes of death is low in all age groups.

Among persons aged under 15, the most common accidental causes of death are traffic accidents. In addition to transport accidents, significant causes of death for persons aged 15 to 29 are suicides and accidental poisonings.

Despite accidents and suicides being an important cause of death among young people, the share of young people in such deaths is relatively low. The share of persons aged under 30 in all persons that died from suicides was one-fifth and in accidental deaths under one-tenth.

Share of accidental and violent deaths (%) by age in 2016

Share of accidental and violent deaths (%) by age in 2016

Deaths from stumbles and falls usually elderly persons

In 2016, the most common accidents leading to death for both women and men were stumbles or falls. Nearly 1,200 Finns died from stumbles or falls. More than one-quarter of men’s and nearly one-half of women's accidental deaths were caused by stumbling or falling.

Deaths caused by stumbling or falling are especially common for elderly persons. Three in four deaths caused by stumbling or falling occurred to persons aged over 75. In absolute numbers, more deaths occurred among elderly women than elderly men but relative to the number of living people, elderly men had more stumbles resulting in death than women in relative terms. In 2016, altogether 150 working-age persons (aged 15 to 64) died as a result of stumbling or falling of whom 80 per cent were men.

Men’s accidental and violent deaths by age in 2016

Men’s accidental and violent deaths by age in 2016

Women’s accidental and violent deaths by age in 2016

Women’s accidental and violent deaths by age in 2016

Number of suicides increased somewhat from the previous year

The second most common accidental or violent cause of death was suicides. The number of suicides has decreased relatively evenly since 1990, when more than 1,500 suicides were committed in Finland. Over the past ten years, the number of suicides has decreased by one-third among women and by nearly one-quarter among men. In 2016, altogether 787 persons committed suicide, which was over 50 cases more than in the previous year but almost the same number as in 2014.

Men committed clearly more suicides than women. More than three-quarters of suicides were committed by men. Men’s suicides are, however, more evenly divided between different age groups than women’s. In suicides committed by women, those committed by young people aged under 25 are more emphasised than among men. The average age of those who committed suicide was 49 to 50 for both women and men.

Number of accidental alcohol and pharmaceutical poisonings has decreased

The next most common cause of death in accidental and violent deaths was alcohol and pharmaceutical poisonings. In 2016, a total of around 500 persons died of accidental poisonings, while ten years ago good 850 persons died of accidental poisonings. Only slightly more than one-half of accidental poisonings resulting in death were caused by alcohol. Persons dying of alcohol poisoning are on average older (57) than those dying from pharmaceuticals or drugs, who are on average 42 years old at the time of death. Several poisonings involve both drugs and alcohol. Then, the underlying cause of death is determined according to the most effective substance.

In 2016, altogether 245 persons in Finland died of other poisonings than alcohol poisoning, mainly pharmaceutical or drug poisonings. This was almost the same number as in the previous year. Two-thirds of them were men. Men’s accidental pharmaceutical or drug deaths occur more in younger age groups than women’s, where the deaths are divided more evenly between different age groups. In the past ten years, no one aged under 15 has died as a result of accidental poisoning. Mortality from pharmaceutical or drug poisonings has decreased by around 16 per cent in Finland in ten years.

Other common causes of accidents: fires, drowning and asphyxiations

Other common causes of accidental death were asphyxiations (86 deaths), drownings (87) and fatal fires (77). In addition, a national characteristics of accidental deaths is dying as result of the heat in sauna (53 deaths) and deaths caused by hypothermia (66).

Annual cause of death statistics are compiled according to the underlying cause of death. It is determined according to the selection and application rules of the International Classification of Diseases (ICD-10) compiled by the World Health Organisation (WHO). Based on the rules, the underlying cause of death is determined from the causes of death given by the physician in the death certificate. In the statistics, accidental and violent deaths are classified based on the external cause not the injury.


Source: Causes of death, Statistics Finland

Inquiries: Airi Pajunen 029 551 3605, Jari Hellanto 029 551 3291, Kati Taskinen 029 551 3648, kuolemansyyt@stat.fi

Director in charge: Jari Tarkoma

Publication in pdf-format (618.1 kB)

Reviews
Tables

Tables in databases

Appendix tables

Figures
Quality descriptions

Updated 29.12.2017

Referencing instructions:

Official Statistics of Finland (OSF): Causes of death [e-publication].
ISSN=1799-5078. 2016. Helsinki: Statistics Finland [referred: 18.10.2018].
Access method: http://www.stat.fi/til/ksyyt/2016/ksyyt_2016_2017-12-29_tie_001_en.html