Significantly more deaths in Wyoming last year


WYOMING – According to records kept by the Vital Statistics Services, a subsidiary of the Wyoming Department of Health, there were significantly more deaths in 2020 along with fewer recorded births, marriages and divorces.

Among Wyoming residents there were 5,983 deaths recorded in 2020 compared to 5,121 deaths in 2019, according to official death certificate information. That’s a 16-percent increase. Death certificates are completed by attending physicians and coroners and then filed with VSS.

“Our data has shown steady, small increases in deaths for several years largely due to our state’s aging population,” Guy Beaudoin, VSS deputy state registrar with WDH, said. “But before the COVID-19 pandemic hit we never would have predicted the large jump we saw in 2020.”

Records show 528 Wyoming resident deaths were reported as related to COVID-19 in 2020 because death certificates described COVID-19 as either causing or contributing to the deaths of those individuals.

“It’s clear that COVID-19 was a driving factor for increased deaths in 2020 in addition to the small growth we would have expected due to Wyoming’s overall aging population,” Beaudoin said. “It’s not nearly as clear what caused the other ‘excess deaths’ but possibilities include COVID-19-related deaths that were missed or the avoidance of either routine or emergency medical care during the pandemic.”

Statistics showed the top five causes of death for Wyoming residents as heart disease, cancer, COVID-19, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and related conditions and various types of accidents.

“Because of Wyoming’s historically high suicide rate, many people have shown interest in suicide data,” Beaudoin said. “We have sadly seen an upward trend in suicides with some ups and downs over the last 10 years. There was an increase last year from the previous year, but it was not as large as a jump as we have sometimes seen in the past.”

Last year there were 181 suicides recorded among Wyoming residents. That’s the highest since at least 2011, 10 more than were recorded in 2012.

There were also 89 overdose deaths recorded among Wyoming residents last year, the most since 94 were recorded in 2016.

“Deaths attributed to overdoses are another area of interest where we have seen both annual increase and decreases over time,” Beaudoin said. “One trend of note over the last few years has been a growing percentage of overdose deaths caused by illicit drugs rather than prescription drugs.”

Births in Wyoming continued their downward slide with 6,127 births in 2020. That’s down from 6,567 the year prior. Marriages also declined with 3,899 in 2020 compared to 4,056 in 2019. Divorces also dropped to 2,169 last year compared to 2,199 the year before.

More information on the VSS can be found at https://health.wyo.gov/admin/vitalstatistics.

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