Higher Than Normal Wyoming Deaths Continued in 2021

April 14, 2022

Higher Than Normal Wyoming Deaths Continued in 2021

Official records filed with Vital Statistics Services (VSS), which is part of the Wyoming Department of Health (WDH), show another sharp increase in deaths last year over what would have been expected before the COVID-19 pandemic; there were also more births, more marriages and fewer divorces among residents.

Among Wyoming residents, there were 6,572 deaths recorded in 2021, 5,986 deaths recorded in 2020 and 5,122 deaths in 2019, according to official death certificate information. Death certificates are completed by attending physicians and coroners and then filed with VSS.

“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. “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.”

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

“Unfortunately, Wyoming continues to have a high suicide rate,” Beaudoin said. “There were small increases in the number of suicide completions in each of the last two years, but there have been other times over the last decade with significantly larger year over year jumps as well as some years with reductions.”

In 2021, 189 (+7 over 2020) suicides were recorded among Wyoming residents compared to 182 in 2020 (+13 over 2019). Previously, there were 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) and 172 in 2012.

Wyoming’s data shows that about 72 percent of suicide deaths in 2021 were due to firearms, with 22 percent due to hanging and 4 percent 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. “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). Previously, there were 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), and 99 in 2012.

“Last year was the first in quite some time with an increase recorded in the number of new babies in Wyoming,” Beaudoin said. “Previously, we had seen an ongoing significant downward trend over several years.”

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.

VSS also holds marriage and divorce records. There were 4,274 marriages recorded in Wyoming last year compared to 3,986 in 2020 and 4,062 in 2019 before the pandemic. As far as divorces, there were 2,158 finalized in 2021 compared with 2,227 divorces in 2020 and 2,253 in 2019 before the pandemic.

VSS promotes and protects the health of Wyoming residents by serving as the official custodian of all vital records in the state and by distributing health information. For more details about VSS, visit https://health.wyo.gov/admin/vitalstatistics/ online.