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6. Men's drug-related deaths increased in 2020

In 2020, a total of 258 persons died from drugs in Finland, which was 24 more than in the year before (Figure 11). Of the deceased, 202 were men and 56 women. The number of men's drug-related deaths grew from the previous year, while roughly as many women died from drugs. Drug-related deaths increased particularly among young men. Altogether 33 more men died under the age of 30 than in the previous year.

More than three out of four persons who died of drugs were men. Men died of drugs younger than women. Among men, most drug-related deaths were recorded in the 20 to 24 age group, among women in the 40 to 44 age group (Figure 13). The average age (median) at death caused by drugs was 30 years for men and 37 years for women.

In 2020, drug mortality per 100,000 population in Finland was 4.7, for men 7.4 and for women 2 (Appendix table 4).

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). There accidental poisonings caused by drugs, deaths related to long-term drug use or drug addiction, suicides committed with drugs and poisonings with undetermined intent caused by drugs are classified as drug-related deaths.

Drug-related deaths are classified according to the substance judged as most influential. Opioids, cannabis and cannabinoids, other hallucinogens, and stimulants suitable for abuse, such as amphetamine and its derivatives are classified as drugs. The majority of deaths were caused by the use of more than one substance. In addition to drug, used were also such as psychopharmaceuticals and/or alcohol. In 2020, altogether 70 per cent of drug-related deaths were caused by excessive use of opioids.

The majority (67%) of drug-related deaths were accidental poisonings, usually poisonings from multiple substances. The most influential substance in most cases was a synthetic pharmaceutical opioid, such as buprenorphine. In 2020, a total of 173 persons died from accidental drug overdoses, which was six more than in the year before.

In 2020, the number of deaths related to long-term drug use or drug addiction numbered 50, while the number was 40 in the previous year. Almost all of the cases concerned mixed use.

In 2020, around one in ten drug-related deaths were suicides. Twenty-seven suicides were committed with drugs, which was almost the same figure as in the year before. More than one-half of the suicides committed with drugs were committed by women, while fewer than one in four of all those dying of drugs were women.

Figure 11. Drug-related deaths 2006–2020 (EMCDDA definition)

Figure 11. Drug-related deaths 2006–2020 (EMCDDA definition)

Figure 12. Drug-related deaths by age in 2019 and 2020

Figure 12. Drug-related deaths by age in 2019 and 2020

Figure 13. Drug-related deaths by sex and age in 2020

Figure 13. Drug-related deaths by sex and age in 2020

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 10.12.2021

Referencing instructions:

Official Statistics of Finland (OSF): Causes of death [e-publication].
ISSN=1799-5078. 2020, 6. Men's drug-related deaths increased in 2020 . Helsinki: Statistics Finland [referred: 3.7.2022].
Access method: http://www.stat.fi/til/ksyyt/2020/ksyyt_2020_2021-12-10_kat_006_en.html