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6. Number of deaths from drugs decreased in 2019

The growth in the number of deaths caused by drugs, which had continued for three consecutive years, halted in 2019, when 234 persons died from drugs in Finland. The number of deaths caused by drugs was 27 lower than in the previous year, but nearly 60 more than ten years earlier. .

Drug-related deaths can be defined in many ways. Statistics Finland uses the definition by the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA’s Selection B classification1)). In it opioids, cannabis and cannabinoids, other hallucinogens, and stimulants suitable for abuse, such as amphetamine and its derivatives are classified as drugs.

The majority of drug-related deaths were poisonings from multiple substances where the effect from drugs was dominant. In addition to drugs, the person had also used, for example, psychopharmacons and/or alcohol. Drug-related deaths are classified according to the substance judged as most influential. Most commonly, in 60 per cent of the deaths, the most influential substance was some opioid, usually a synthetic pharmaceutical opioid, such as buprenorphine.

In ten years, drug mortality, or the number of deaths from drugs per 100,000 population, has grown by 27 per cent. Men's drug mortality is considerably higher than women's. Three out of four of those who died from drugs were men. In 2019, the drug mortality was 4.2, for men 6.5 and for women 2 (Appendix table 4).

Nearly 70 per cent of those who died of drugs died under the age of 40. Most deaths occurred in the age group aged 35 to 39. Among women, deaths from drugs were focused on younger age groups than among men. Women's drug mortality was highest among those aged under 25. The average age (median) at death caused by drugs was 31 years for women and 33 years for men.

The majority (over 70%) of drug-related deaths were accidental poisonings, which in 2019 numbered 167. The number was almost the same as in the previous year.

In 2019, the number of deaths related to long-term drug use or drug addiction numbered 40, while the number was 49 in the previous year. The median age of persons dying of drug-related addiction syndromes was slightly higher (34 years) than that of persons dying of accidental drug poisonings (30 years).

In 2019, around one in ten drug-related deaths were suicides. Twenty-five suicides were committed with drugs, which was 10 fewer than in the year before. More than one half of the suicides committed with drugs were committed by women, while only one in four of all those dying of drugs were women.

Figure 11. Drug-related deaths 2006–2019 (EMCDDA definition)

Figure 11. Drug-related deaths 2006–2019 (EMCDDA definition)

Source: Causes of death, Statistics Finland

Inquiries: Airi Pajunen 029 551 3605, Kati Taskinen 029 551 3648, Jari Hellanto 029 551 3291,

Head of Department in charge: Hannele Orjala

Updated 14.12.2020

Referencing instructions:

Official Statistics of Finland (OSF): Causes of death [e-publication].
ISSN=1799-5078. 2019, 6. Number of deaths from drugs decreased in 2019 . Helsinki: Statistics Finland [referred: 8.12.2022].
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