5. 1,200 persons died as a result of stumbling or falling

In addition to stumbling and falling, other common causes of fatal accidents are poisonings, traffic, drownings, asphyxiations and fires. Here, all other poisonings apart from alcohol poisonings that belong to alcohol-related causes in the national time series classification are considered accidents.

In 2016, accidents excluding alcohol poisoning caused four per cent of all deaths. Accidents (excl. alcohol poisonings) were the cause of the death of over 2,200 persons, 1,400 men and 800 women. The number of deaths from accidents has almost continuously fallen since 2004. Fatal traffic accidents in particularly have decreased. In 2016, the number of accidents resulting in death grew mainly as the number of fatal stumbles and falls increased. Women's accident mortality is clearly lower than men's but the accident mortality of men has developed favourably in recent years and the difference between men and women has narrowed.

Figure 9. Accident mortality and separately deaths from accidental stumbles and falls in 1971 to 2016

Figure 9. Accident mortality and separately deaths from accidental stumbles and falls in 1971 to 2016

The commonest accident leading to death was caused by stumbling or falling. In 2016, stumbling and falling caused the death of around 1,200 persons, which was around one-half of all fatal accidents. Nine out of ten fatal stumbles happened to persons aged over 65 and the average age at death was 79 years for men and 87 years for women. In absolute numbers, the same number of deaths occurred among women and men but relative to the number of living people, elderly men had more fatal stumbles than women in relative terms.

The second most common fatal accidents were transport accidents. There were 252 deaths in transport accidents (excl. drowning accidents in water traffic) in 2016. The number of deaths has decreased by over one third in the past ten years. Suicides committed in traffic are not included in deaths in transport accidents in the statistics.

The total number of fatal poisonings (excl. alcohol poisonings) was 245 cases in 2016 of which 176 were men and 69 women. Since 2010, the number of fatal poisonings has decreased by 22 per cent but compared to 2015, the number of cases had remained almost unchanged. Men die of poisonings at a younger age than women. The average age of those dying of fatal poisonings was 40 years for men and 51 years for women.

Drowning accidents include drowning from falling into water and drowning while swimming or boating. In 2016, altogether 121 persons drowned, 34 of whom in water traffic. Most drowning victims, over 80 per cent, were men. Deaths by drowning have decreased clearly since the beginning of the 2000s when there were over 200 drowning victims per year (Figure 10).

In 2016, altogether 77 persons died in accidental fires while in 2014 the number of deaths was 61. Two-thirds of the victims were men. Deaths in accidental fires do not include deaths in deliberately lit fires. Sixteen persons committed suicide with fire or smoke. There were 53 deaths caused by the heat of sauna and 66 deaths caused by hypothermia.

Figure 10. Mortality from drowning accidents in 1998 to 2016

Figure 10. Mortality from drowning accidents in 1998 to 2016

More than one-half of the persons that died in accidental fires were intoxicated.

In 2016, alcohol was a contributing factor in one in six fatal accidents, on average. Seventeen per cent of those who died in fatal accidents were intoxicated, i.e. 330 persons (Appendix table 3). Ten years ago, the corresponding share was 25 per cent of fatal accidents. In the statistics on causes of death, alcohol intoxication is determined from the death certificate where the doctor signing the certificate judged that alcohol had contributed to the death. The figures exclude alcohol and drug poisonings where alcohol or drugs have not directly caused the death.

In 2016, intoxication was most common in accidental fire deaths, where around one-half of victims were under the influence of alcohol. Forty per cent of those who died in saunas or drowned were also intoxicated. In traffic deaths, one in five were intoxicated at the time of death. By contrast, in stumbling accidents, of which a majority occurred among persons aged over 70, only one in ten were under the influence of alcohol.

Around 200 died from drugs

In 2015, the number of deaths caused by drugs in Finland was 194, which was 28 more than in the previous year (Figure 11). Drug-related deaths have been calculated using the classification (Selection B 1) ) compiled by the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction, EMCDDA . According to the classification, cases where the primary cause of death is drug psychoses, accidental poisoning, self-inflicted poisoning, and poisoning with undetermined intent are calculated as drug-related deaths, as well as organic brain syndromes or behavioural disturbances caused by drugs.

In 2016, there were 3.5 drug-related deaths in Finland per 100,000 inhabitants. The average age at death of persons that died from drugs was 37 years for men and 44 years for women. Most drug-related deaths in absolute numbers occurred among persons aged 25 to 29. Considerably more men than women die of drugs. In 2016, women's share of all deaths from drugs was one quarter. Only 19 per cent of the persons that died in accidents from drugs were women but one-third of suicides committed with drugs were committed by women.

Figure 11. Drug-related deaths 2006 to 2016 (EMCDDA definition)

Figure 11. Drug-related deaths 2006 to 2016 (EMCDDA definition)

Accidental drug poisonings are cases where the death occurs shortly after the consumption of the substance. In 2016, there were 129 accidental overdoses. The number is higher than in previous years. Usually, drug users’ poisoning deaths are accidental. Self-inflicted poisonings with drugs are suicides. Eighteen suicides were committed with drugs in 2016. In poisonings with undetermined intent, the intent remains unclear. There were only a few such cases. Deaths from organic brain syndromes or behavioural disturbances caused by drugs are usually a result of drug addiction and long-term drug use.

The drugs referred to in the EMCDDA's classification are mainly opioids. In 2016, nearly three out of four drug-related deaths were associated with overdoses of opioids. In addition to opioids, drugs also refer to cannabis and cannabinoids, other hallucinogens, and stimulants suitable for abuse, such as amphetamine and its derivatives.

Poisoning deaths are classified based on the substance judged as most influential. Usually, death is the result of multiple substance poisoning where the person has also digested other substances like alcohol and/or psychopharmacons. In drug poisonings resulting in death, combined use of drugs and pharmaceuticals was most common.

Causes of death data are classified in accordance with the WHO’s International Classification of Diseases (ICD-10), where several pharmaceuticals and drugs are classified under the same code. Therefore, the statistics on causes of death offer limited possibilities for substance-specific examinations. More detailed information is available from the Forensic Toxicology Unit of the National Institute for Health and Welfare that performs the forensic toxicology tests related to determining the cause of death.

Table 4. Drug-related mortality 2000 to 2016

  Total Males Females Total Males Females
Number Number Number Per 100 000 mean population Per 100 000 mean population Per 100 000 mean population
2000 134 109 25 2,6 4,3 0,9
2001 110 78 32 2,1 3,1 1,2
2002 97 69 28 1,9 2,7 1,1
2003 101 76 25 1,9 3,0 0,9
2004 135 96 39 2,6 3,8 1,5
2005 126 95 31 2,4 3,7 1,2
2006 138 107 31 2,6 4,2 1,2
2007 143 116 27 2,7 4,5 1,0
2008 169 120 49 3,2 4,6 1,8
2009 175 130 45 3,3 5,0 1,7
2010 156 117 39 2,9 4,4 1,4
2011 197 156 41 3,7 5,9 1,5
2012 213 161 52 3,9 6,1 1,9
2013 201 148 53 3,7 5,5 1,9
2014 176 141 35 3,2 5,2 1,3
2015 166 127 39 3,0 4,7 1,4
2016 194 152 42 3,5 5,6 1,5

1) F11-F12, F14-F16, F19 and X41, X42, X61, X62, Y11 and Y12 together with T codes (T40.0-9,T43.6.)

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


Updated 29.12.2017

Referencing instructions:

Official Statistics of Finland (OSF): Causes of death [e-publication].
ISSN=1799-5078. 2016, 5. 1,200 persons died as a result of stumbling or falling . Helsinki: Statistics Finland [referred: 19.10.2019].
Access method: http://www.stat.fi/til/ksyyt/2016/ksyyt_2016_2017-12-29_kat_005_en.html