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WDH: Deaths in Wyoming higher than normal in 2021

CASPER, Wyo. – Wyoming's death rate saw another sharp increase in 2021, according to statistics from the Vital Statistics Service (VSS).

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CASPER, Wyo. — Wyoming’s death rate saw another notable increase in 2021, according to statistics from the Vital Statistics Service (VSS).

In a release issued by the Wyoming Department of Health (WDH) on Thursday, statistics also showed more births and marriages, and fewer divorces among Wyoming residences.

The WDH says according to official death certificate information, there were 6,572 deaths recorded in 2021, compared with 5,986 deaths recorded in 2020 and 5,122 deaths in 2019.

“Before the pandemic, our data has shown steady, small increases in deaths for several years largely due to our state’s aging population. That’s something we would have reasonably expected to continue,” said Guy Beaudoin, VSS deputy state registrar with WDH, in the press release. “However, the dramatically increased numbers of deaths over the last two years are unprecedented in Wyoming. It’s clear COVID-19 was a driving factor.”

The top five causes for Wyoming deaths in 2021 were cancers (1,151), heart diseases (1,113), COVID-19 (1,025), various types of accidents and adverse effects (379), and COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) and related conditions (355).

Wyoming’s suicide rate also remained high, according to the release, and has increased a small number over the last two years.

In 2021, 189 (+7 over 2020) suicides were recorded among Wyoming residents compared to:

  • 182 in 2020 (+13 over 2019)
  • 169 in 2019 (+22 over 2018)
  • 147 in 2018 (-8 over 2017)
  • 155 in 2017 (+12 over 2016)
  • 143 in 2016 (-12 over 2015)
  • 155 in 2015 (+36 over 2014)
  • 119 in 2014 (-9 over 213)
  • 128 in 2013 (-44 over 2012)
  • 172 in 2012

Wyoming’s data shows that about 72% of suicide deaths in 2021 were due to firearms, while 22% were due to hanging and 4% were due to poisoning.

“Deaths attributed to overdoses are another area of interest where over time we have seen increases between some years and decreases between others,” Beaudoin said in the release. “Of note, we do continue to see the percentage of overdose deaths caused by illicit drugs rather than prescription drugs as growing within our state.” 

In 2021, there were 95 (+5 over 2020) overdose deaths recorded among Wyoming residents, compared to:

  • 90 in 2020 (+9 over 2019)
  • 81 in 2019 (+16 over 2018)
  • 65 in 2018 (+5 over 2017)
  • 60 in 2017 (-34 over 2016)
  • 94 in 2016 (-1 over 2015)
  • 95 in 2015 (-12 over 2014)
  • 107 in 2014 (+11 over 2013)
  • 96 in 2013 (-3 over 2012)
  • 99 in 2012

The release says there were 6,232 births among Wyoming resident mothers in 2021 compared with 6,132 in 2020. The high over the past decade was in 2015, with 7,678 resident births.

Some 4,274 marriages were recorded, up from 2020 and 2019. Divorces fell, with 2,158 finalized in 2021 compared with 2,227 divorces in 2020 and 2,253 in 2019 before the pandemic.

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