Published: 30 December 2014

Persons who died of alcohol-related causes older than before

According to Statistics Finland, good 1,900 persons died of alcohol-related causes in 2013. The number of deaths was unchanged from the previous year. Three-quarters of the persons that died of alcohol-related causes were men. Deaths from alcohol-related causes have become more common over the past ten years especially among men aged over 55. Simultaneously, the medium age of those who died has risen from 55 to 59. In younger age groups, deaths from alcohol-related causes have decreased.

Men’s mortality from alcohol-related causes by age groups in 1981 to 2013

Men’s mortality from alcohol-related causes by age groups in 1981 to 2013

Over the past ten years, deaths from alcohol-related causes among men have increased most for those aged 65 to 74. Deaths have grown nearly 1.5-fold. Deaths from alcohol-related causes are, however, still highest among men aged 55 to 64. By contrast, deaths from alcohol-related causes among younger men than that have decreased.

Deaths related to the use of alcohol grew relatively evenly in Finland from the 1980s until 2003, after which deaths from alcohol-related causes increased by around one-quarter within a few years. The slow decrease in the number of deaths from alcohol-related causes that started in 2008 came to a halt in 2012. In 2013, deaths from alcohol-related causes again decreased slightly from the previous year but still being clearly higher than in 2003.

In 2013, the share of alcohol-related causes in all causes of death was four per cent. In 2013, good 1,900 persons died from alcohol-related diseases and alcohol poisonings. Of them 1,500 were men and 400 were women. Persons who died from alcohol-related causes were older than before. The share of persons aged over 65 in deaths from alcohol-related causes has grown by ten percentage points over the past ten years from 18 to 28 per cent. A majority, or seven out of ten, of those who died from alcohol-related causes were still of working-age. The meaning of alcohol as a cause of death is higher for middle-aged people than for retirement-age people because the mortality of middle-aged people as a whole is clearly lower than for older age groups. For example, among men who died at the age of 45 to 54, one in four died of alcohol-related causes.

A majority of deaths from alcohol-related causes are caused by diseases related to long-term use, such as liver and heart diseases. The share of alcohol poisonings in deaths from alcohol-related causes has decreased to 17 per cent. In addition to the underlying cause of death, alcohol can also be a contributing factor to death. In 2013, alcohol was a contributing factor in 355, or more than one in- six, accidental deaths. Intoxication was most common in fire accidents, where more than one-half of those who died were under the influence of alcohol. One in five of those who died in traffic were intoxicated. In stumbling accidents, of which a majority occurred among persons aged over 65, fewer than one in ten were under the influence of alcohol.

One in five women died of dementia

Altogether 51,500 persons died in 2013. 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. Four hundred of those who died had turned 100.

In 2013, thirty-eight per cent of all deaths were caused by diseases of the circulatory system and 24 per cent by neoplasms. Lung cancer was the most common type of cancer among men and breast cancer among women. The share of dementia (including Alzheimer's disease) among deaths has grown quickly over the past few years partially because of the population aging. Fifteen per cent of all deaths were caused by dementia, while the share ten years ago was still eight per cent. Of women, one in five died from dementia and of men nearly one in ten. The higher share of deaths from dementia among women than men is caused by women living longer than men.

Suicides were committed by 887 persons, which was slightly more than in the year before. Of those who committed suicides, 11 per cent were under the age of 25. The number of suicides has decreased among both women and men by over 15 per cent over the past ten years. The figure was at its highest in 1990, when there were over 1,500 suicides in Finland.

In terms of the total number of accidents, 2013 did not differ much from 2012. The number of accidental deaths is 2,200 when alcohol poisonings are included in deaths from alcohol-related causes. Especially, the number of deaths from fires was record low.

Causes of death 2013 (time series classification)

  Total Males Females Total Males Females
Number Number Number % % %
Diseases of the circulatory system 19 548 9 478 10 070 38 37 39
Neoplasms 12 224 6 408 5 816 24 25 22
Dementia, Alzheimer's disease 7 543 2 403 5 140 15 9 20
Accidents 2 245 1 427 818 4 6 3
Disease of the respiratory system 1 892 1 186 706 4 5 3
Alcohol related diseases and accidental poisoning by alcohol 1 926 1 502 424 4 6 2
Suicides 887 666 221 2 3 1
Other causes of death 5 213 2 557 2 656 10 10 10
Deaths total 51 478 25 627 25 851 100 100 100

Source: Causes of death, Statistics Finland

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

Director in charge: Riitta Harala

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Updated 30.12.2014

Referencing instructions:

Official Statistics of Finland (OSF): Causes of death [e-publication].
ISSN=1799-5078. 2013. Helsinki: Statistics Finland [referred: 16.11.2018].
Access method: http://www.stat.fi/til/ksyyt/2013/ksyyt_2013_2014-12-30_tie_001_en.html