1. Causes of death in 2014

A total of 52,400 persons, 25,900 men and 26,500 women, died in 2014. The longer life expectancy is visible in the age distribution of deaths. People are dying at an ever older age: nearly two in three were aged over 75 and one in three were over 85. Nearly 400 of dead persons were aged 100 or over. The growing number of aged dead persons is visible in causes of death in the increased number of deaths from dementia, for example.

Due to the age structure of persons who died, the typical causes of death of older age groups dominate the causes of death distribution of the entire population. In 2014, thirty-seven per cent of deaths of Finns were caused by diseases of the circulatory system and 23 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 8,100 persons died from dementia, including Alzheimer's disease, which represented 15 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. Dementia mortality among women was more than double than among men, which is mainly because women live longer than men. There are no differences in age-standardised mortality among genders (Figure 5).

Fewer deaths of alcohol-related causes and suicides than in the year before

In 2014, over 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. In terms of the total number of deaths from accidents, 2014 did not differ much from the year before. However, the number of deaths from accidents has slowly and almost continuously fallen since 2004, when 2,600 persons died from accidents.

Good 1,800 persons died of alcohol-related diseases and alcohol poisonings in 2014, which is nearly 100 lower than in the previous year. The share of alcohol-related causes in all deaths was four per cent. The majority of those dying of alcohol, three out of four, were men. Deaths from alcohol-related causes have become more common over the past ten years most among older age groups. Simultaneously, the medium age of those who died has risen. The median average age of men in alcohol-related causes of death was 59 years and of women 62 years.

In 2014, suicides were committed by 789 persons, which is around 100 lower than in the year before. The number of suicides was at its highest in 1990, when there were over 1,500 suicides in Finland. Since then, suicide mortality has decreased almost continuously (Figure 10). In 2014, suicide mortality was nearly 30 per cent lower than ten years ago. The median average age of suicides was 48 years. One in ten of all those having committed a suicide was a young person aged under 25 and one in five was aged 65 or over.

Table 1. Causes of death 2014

54–group time series classification Total Males Females Total Males Females
Number Number Number % % %
27–30 Diseases of the circulatory system 19 555 9 421 10 134 37 36 38
04–22 Neoplasms 12 270 6 476 5 794 23 25 22
25 Dementia, Alzheimer's disease 8 116 2 499 5 617 15 10 21
42–49 Accidents 2 226 1 379 847 4 5 3
41 Alcohol related diseases and accidental poisoning by alcohol 1 841 1 430 411 4 6 2
31–35 Disease of the respiratory system 1 837 1 149 688 4 4 3
50 Suicides 789 599 190 2 2 1
Other causes of death 5 775 2 911 2 864 11 11 11
01–54 Deaths total 52 409 25 864 26 545 100 100 100

Over one-half of working-age people died of neoplasms and diseases of the circulatory system

Ever fewer working-age persons, i.e. aged 15 to 64, die in Finland. In all, 8,700 of those dying in 2014, or 17 per cent of all deaths, were of working age. Every fourth man and every tenth woman that died during the year was of working age. The number of deaths among persons aged under 65 decreased by over 500 from the previous year.

The age-standardised mortality of working-age people has diminished in ten years by around one quarter. The mortality of working-age men has diminished more than that of women, so the difference in mortality between genders has narrowed down somewhat. However, the mortality of working-age men is still over double that of women.

Working-age people died most from neoplasms and from diseases of the circulatory system. More than one-half of deceased working-age people died of these two causes. In 2014, the most common cause of death group for working-age women is neoplasms, of which as many as 41 per cent of women died. Among working-age women, diseases of the circulatory system as the cause of death have decreased: their share in 2014 was 16 per cent of all deaths when twenty years ago the share was nearly one-quarter. More working-age men still died of diseases of the circulatory system than of neoplasms. The most common type of cancer resulting in death among women was breast cancer, which caused the death of nearly every tenth working-age woman. For working-age men, the most common cancer resulting in death was lung cancer.

Nearly 1,300 died of alcohol-related causes and diseases or accidental alcohol poisonings, that is, 15 per cent of those dying at working age. Four times more working-age men died of alcohol-related causes than working-age women. Causes of death related to alcohol caused the death of nearly every fifth man and every tenth woman. Alcohol mortality among working-age men and women has decreased clearly from the peak level of 2007 but is still almost on level with the beginning of the 2000s.

Every tenth working-age person died in accidents and over 600 died of suicides. Seven per cent of deaths were still caused by suicides despite the fact that suicides have decreased clearly from the 1990s.

Every fourth woman aged over 65 died of dementia

Finns die at an advanced age. The average age at death was 76 years for men and 85 years for women. The share of persons aged over 65 among deaths was 89 per cent for women and 77 per cent for men. The causes of death structure for older age groups clearly differs from that of the working-age population: the share of neoplasms, suicides, accidents and alcohol-related causes of death is smaller than among working-age people.

The most common cause of death category for persons aged over 65 was diseases of the circulatory system, which caused 40 per cent of the deaths. The share of diseases of the circulatory system in causes of death grows with age: For those aged 65 to 74 they killed one-third and for those aged over 90 as many as one-half (Figure 1). Correspondingly, the share of neoplasms in causes of death diminishes by age. Only eight per cent of those deceased at the age of over 90 died of neoplasms.

The importance of dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease as a cause of death has grown strongly. In 2014, dementia was the third most common cause of death category for elderly people after diseases of the circulatory system and neoplasms. Nearly one-fifth of persons who had turned 65 and one-third of those aged over 95 died of dementia. Dementia mortality has developed over the past twenty years in a similar fashion for both men and women (Figure 5). According to Eurostat's statistics for 2012, the dementia mortality of men and women in Finland is biggest in EU countries relative to the population.

In 2014, one in five of the persons who committed a suicide were aged 65 or over. The share of suicides in causes of death for elderly people is, however, very low, under one per cent. In an international comparison, the suicide mortality of Finns aged over 65 did not differ from the average for EU countries in 2012. Additional information on the causes of death of persons aged 65 or over can be found in Appendix tables 1a-c and database tables.

Table 2. Main causes of death among persons aged 65 or over in 2014

54-group time series classification Total Males Females Total Males Females
Number Number Number % % %
04–22 Neoplasms 9 768 5 109 4 659 22 26 20
- Malignant neoplasm of larynx, trachea, bronchus and lung 1 715 1 098 617 4 6 3
- Malignant neoplasm of lymphoid, haematopoietic and related tissue 1 002 500 502 2 3 2
- Malignant neoplasm of pancreas 857 401 456 2 2 2
25 Dementia, Alzheimer's disease 8 071 2 476 5 595 19 13 24
27–30 Diseases of the circulatory system 17 593 7 894 9 699 40 40 41
- Ischaemic heart diseases 9 340 4 682 4 658 21 24 20
31–35 Disease of the respiratory system 1 635 1 012 623 4 5 3
41 Alcohol related diseases and accidental poisoning by alcohol 583 418 165 1 2 1
42–49 Accidents 1 410 756 654 3 4 3
Suicides 163 126 37 0 1 0
Other causes of death 4 313 2 008 2 305 10 10 10
01–54 Deaths total 43 536 19 799 23 737 100 100 100

Figure 1. Proportions of causes of death by age groups in 2014

Figure 1. Proportions of causes of death by age groups in 2014

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

Updated 30.12.2015

Referencing instructions:

Official Statistics of Finland (OSF): Causes of death [e-publication].
ISSN=1799-5078. 2014, 1. Causes of death in 2014 . Helsinki: Statistics Finland [referred: 22.10.2019].
Access method: http://www.stat.fi/til/ksyyt/2014/ksyyt_2014_2015-12-30_kat_001_en.html