King County provides numbers, causes of death

In 2009, King County saw the lowest number of deaths due to homicide and traffic accidents in the past 10 years. By contrast, the number of suicides has increased to the highest number since 2000, according to a King County Medical Examiner’s report released Dec. 29.

The report presents a detailed analysis of deaths that fall under KCME’s jurisdiction, including suspicious, sudden, unexpected or violent deaths, as well as trends in homicides, traffic fatalities and drug overdose deaths.

In 2009, there were an estimated 12,967 deaths in King County and the medical examiner’s office performed autopsies approximately 10 percent (1,226) of the time. KCME assumed jurisdiction in 2,190 deaths, which included 989 natural deaths, 632 accidental deaths, 253 suicides, 141 traffic deaths, 63 homicides and 59 undetermined causes.

Compared with 2008, King County had fewer homicides, traffic fatalities and accidental deaths in 2009. Deaths from natural causes and suicides both increased. Firearms were the most frequent instrument of death in homicides and suicides. Of the 146 firearm deaths in 2009, 41 were homicides and 100 were suicides. One firearm death was classified as an accident in 2009.

The most common cause of accidental death was falls, most of which occurred in the age group 70 years and older.

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