5. Growth in number of accidental deaths halted in 2019

In Finland accidents caused the death of more than 2,200 persons in total in 2019. Of them, 1,400 were men and 800 women. Accidents caused four per cent of all deaths. Five per cent of men and three per cent of women died in accidents.

Starting from 2004, the accident mortality relative to the population decreased almost continuously for ten years. The number of fatal accidents grew in 2016 to 2018, but the growth halted in 2019. In 2019, over 140 persons less died in accidents than in the previous year.

Figure 9. Accident mortality and separately deaths from accidental falls in 1970 to 2019

Figure 9. Accident mortality and separately deaths from accidental falls in 1970 to 2019

Stumbling the most common reason for fatal accidents

The most common accident leading to death is stumbling or falling. In 2019, altogether 1,200 persons died from stumbles or fall, which is over one half of all fatal accidents. A majority of fatal stumbles, nine out of ten, happened to persons aged over 65. The average age at death caused by stumbling was 81 years for men and 88 years for women. Relative to the number of living people, elderly men stumbled fatally slightly more often than women.

In 2019, a total of 278 persons died of accidental poisoning (excl. alcohol poisoning). Of them, over 70 per cent were men. Compared with 2018, poisoning deaths decreased by around 30 persons. The average age of those dying of accidental poisonings was 37 years for men and 43 years for women. The majority of accidental poisonings are poisonings from multiple substances, involving several different pharmaceuticals, as well as alcohol and/or drugs.

More than one half of the accidental poisoning deaths in the cause of death statistics for 2019 were drug-related deaths as defined by the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA). The accidental poisonings that by the EMCDDA’s definition were not deaths caused by drugs were mostly caused by an overdose of tranquillisers and sleeping medicine (e.g. benzodiazepines).

The second most common fatal accidents were transport accidents. There were 209 deaths in transport accidents (excl. drowning accidents in water traffic) in 2019. The number of deaths was one third lower than ten years earlier. Suicides committed in traffic or persons who died from having a seizure in traffic are not included in the statistics in deaths in transport accidents.

Number of drownings decreased but more children drowned than in the year before

In 2019, altogether 132 persons drowned accidentally, 31 of whom in water traffic. The number of drownings decreased from the previous year. In 2018, there were 164 drowning deaths. The majority of drowning victims, almost nine out of ten, were men. Over one half of drowning victims were aged 65 or over. Among children drowning deaths increased from the year before. There were eight drownings (incl. drownings in water traffic) among children aged under 15, while there was one in the year before. Deaths by drowning have decreased since the beginning of the 2000s when there were around 200 drowning victims per year (Figure 10). Drowning accidents include drowning from falling into water and drowning while swimming or boating.

In 2019, altogether 48 persons died in accidental fires while in the previous year the number of deaths was 46. The vast majority of the victims, two out of three, were men. Deaths in accidental fires do not include deaths in deliberately lit fires. There were 48 deaths caused by the heat of sauna and 92 deaths caused by hypothermia.

Accidental deaths caused by animals are rare in Finland. In 2019, five persons died in these types of accidents. The accidents were caused by elk, horse and dog. In the 2010s, an average of nine persons per year have died in accidents caused by animals. Most accidents resulting in death have in the last ten years been caused by an elk (23 deaths), a wasp (20) and a dog (19).

Figure 10. Drowning accidents deaths in 2006 to 2019

Figure 10. Drowning accidents deaths in 2006 to 2019

Intoxication a contributing factor in every sixth accidental death

Intoxication was a factor in accidental deaths in around every sixth accident. The share of intoxicated persons in accidental deaths has decreased in the 2000s. In 2019, sixteen per cent of those who died in fatal accidents were intoxicated at the time, while ten years ago the corresponding share was 23 per cent.

In total, 314 persons who died in accidents in 2019 were under the influence of an intoxicant, of these a majority were intoxicated from alcohol, 275 persons. In addition, 39 persons were under the influence of various intoxicants (drug/pharmaceutical/alcohol) (Appendix table 2).

In 2019, intoxication at the time of the accident was most common for those that died of the heat of sauna and of fires. One half of them were under the influence of an intoxicant. Nearly one half of those who died by accidental drowning and of hypothermia outdoors had also been intoxicated at the time of the accident. Nearly every fourth person who died in transport accidents was intoxicated. By contrast, in fatal stumbling accidents, of which a majority occurred among persons aged over 70, fewer than one in ten were under the influence of an intoxicant.

In the statistics on causes of death, intoxication is determined from the death certificate. In addition to alcohol intoxication, the figures also include intoxication from drugs and pharmaceuticals. The figures do not include accidental alcohol, pharmaceutical and drug poisonings.

Source: Causes of death, Statistics Finland

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

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, 5. Growth in number of accidental deaths halted in 2019 . Helsinki: Statistics Finland [referred: 18.6.2021].
Access method: http://www.stat.fi/til/ksyyt/2019/ksyyt_2019_2020-12-14_kat_005_en.html