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Published: 10 December 2021

No major changes in causes of death compared to the previous year

According to Statistics Finland's statistics on causes of death, diseases of the circulatory system, neoplasms and memory diseases still caused the highest number of deaths in 2020. Three-quarters of the deceased, over 42,000 persons, died of these diseases. Nearly 4,700 Finns died of suicides, accidents and alcohol-related causes of death, which was slightly fewer than in the year before. The coronavirus disease caused the death of 558 persons, one in hundred deaths.

Deaths by main causes of deaths in 2019 ja 2020

Deaths by main causes of deaths in 2019 ja 2020

In 2020, altogether 55,500 persons died in Finland, which is around 1,500 more than in the year before. However, relative to the population size and age structure, total mortality did not grow in 2020 from the previous year, but remained almost unchanged for both men and women.

One in three deaths in Finland were caused by diseases of the circulatory system and one in four by neoplasms. The most common types of cancer leading to death were lung cancer and pancreatic cancer, for men also prostate cancer and for women breast cancer. A total of 10,700 people died of memory diseases, or dementia and Alzheimer's disease, which is around one fifth of all deaths.

Mortality from diseases of the circulatory system and neoplasms decreased from the previous year

Nearly 400 more died of diseases of the circulatory system and neoplasms and over 500 more died of memory diseases in 2020 than in 2019. By contrast, over 200 fewer died of respiratory diseases than in the previous year. In the classification of diseases, deaths caused by Covid-19 virus infection are not classified as respiratory diseases, but in the main group containing diagnosis codes for special cases.

The increase in the number of deaths from diseases is partly explained by the ageing of the population's age structure. Relative to the population size and age structure, mortality decreased by over one per cent both from diseases of the circulatory system and from neoplasms from the previous year. In addition, mortality from respiratory diseases decreased by as much as 14 per cent. Only 58 persons died of influenza. By contrast, mortality from memory disorders grew by around two per cent from the previous year.

As many deaths of alcohol-related causes as in the year before

In 2020, some 1,700 persons died of alcohol-related diseases and alcohol poisonings, 1,300 men and 400 women. There were no changes in the number of deaths from the previous year. The share of alcohol-related causes in all causes of death was three per cent, for men five per cent and for women one per cent.

In 2020, the average age of men dying of alcohol-related causes was 62 years and that of women 63 years. Men dying of alcohol-related causes were slightly younger than in the previous year. The share of persons aged under 65 among those who died from alcohol-related causes grew for men from 57 to 63 per cent.

Number of suicides fell

In 2020, suicides were committed by 717 persons. This is 29 fewer than in the year before. The number of suicides committed by men decreased from the previous year’s 567 to 529. By contrast, the number of suicides committed by women remained almost unchanged. The vast majority or three-quarters of those who committed suicide were still men. The average age of those who committed suicide was 44 for women and 46 for men in 2020.

Women's accidental deaths decreased

In 2020, accidents caused the death of a total of 2,200 persons in Finland, which is around 30 fewer than in 2019. Two-thirds of those who died in accidents were men. Accidents caused four per cent of all deaths. Five per cent of men and three per cent of women died in accidents.

However, the number of accidental deaths among men and women developed differently from the year before. The number of accidental deaths grew slightly for men, from 1,412 to 1,457, while women had fewer fatal accidents than before (2019: 833, 2020: 756). Among women, stumbling accidents especially among persons aged over 80 decreased compared with 2019. Stumbling accidents resulting in death and accidental poisonings increased somewhat among men from the year before.

Altogether 558 persons died of the coronavirus disease, the average age of the deceased was 84 years

A total of 558 persons died of Covid-19 virus infection, or the coronavirus disease, in 2020. One in one hundred deaths in Finland were caused by the coronavirus disease. The dead were mostly elderly. The average age (median) was 84 years. Nearly 90 per cent were aged 70 or over and 25 per cent had turned 90. Altogether, 42 persons aged under 65 died of this disease, which is under eight per cent of all deaths from the coronavirus disease. No persons aged under 20 died of the coronavirus disease, the youngest person who died belonged to the 20 to 24 age group and the oldest was aged over 100.

The share of men and women among those dying of the coronavirus disease was almost equal, 282 men and 276 women, but in younger age groups the share of men was clearly higher than that of women. All persons who died under the age of 55 were men and nearly nine out of ten of those who died under the age of 65 were also men. The average age of men dying of the coronavirus disease was 80 years and that of women 87 years. In the oldest age groups, the share of women was higher. There are more women than men in these age groups, because women live longer than men.

In addition, Covid-19 virus infection had an effect on the death of 72 persons other than as the primary cause of death in the statistics. Most of them had multiple diseases. Around 40 per cent had memory disease as the primary cause of death. For one in four the primary cause of death was cardio or vascular disease and for one in five cancer. Covid-19 virus infections recorded as contributing causes of death on death certificates are not included in deaths caused by the coronavirus disease in the cause of death statistics.

Deaths due to COVID-19 by sex and age in 2020

Deaths due to COVID-19 by sex and age in 2020

Causes of death 2020

54-group time series classification 2020 2019 Age-standardised mortality rate Age-standandardised mortality rate
Total Males Females Total Males Females
Number Number Number Number Number Number Change
2019–2020, %
Change
2010–2020, %
Deaths total 55 498 27 971 27 527 53 962 27 088 26 874 +0,3 -13,7
Diseases of the circulatory system 18 496 9 541 8 955 18 267 9 255 9 012 -1,4 -30,6
Neoplasms 13 411 7 154 6 257 13 267 7 097 6 170 -1,1 -8,0
Dementia, Alzheimer's disease 10 673 3 495 7 178 10 153 3 401 6 752 +1,7 +28,7
Accidents 2 213 1 457 756 2 245 1 412 833 -2,8 -23,5
Disease of the respiratory system 1 749 1 130 619 1 969 1 205 764 -14,0 -32,0
Alcohol related diseases and accidental poisoning by alcohol 1 716 1 318 398 1 718 1 306 412 +0,3 -16,6
Diseases of the digestive system (excl. alcohol-related diseases) 1 359 621 738 1 271 585 686 +4,2 -15,2
Suicides 717 529 188 746 567 179 -4,4 -27,0
COVID-19 558 282 276 0 0 0 - -
Other causes of death 4 606 2 444 2 162 4 326 2 260 2 066 - -

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

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Updated 10.12.2021

Referencing instructions:

Official Statistics of Finland (OSF): Causes of death [e-publication].
ISSN=1799-5078. 2020. Helsinki: Statistics Finland [referred: 1.7.2022].
Access method: http://www.stat.fi/til/ksyyt/2020/ksyyt_2020_2021-12-10_tie_001_en.html