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Whatcom County’s suicide rate dropped in 2020 but drug overdose deaths increased

WHATCOM COUNTY, Wash. — The number of deaths by suicide dropped by over 30% while accidental drug overdose deaths increased 250% according to the annual report for 2020 compiled by Whatcom County Medical Examiner Gary Goldfogel.

The Medical Examiner’s office assumed jurisdiction in over 140 death investigations that involved autopsies and toxicological examinations during 2020. That compares with 129 in 2018 and 137 in 2019.

Of the 140 investigations, 26 were determined to be of natural causes, 68 accidental, 32 suicide, 6 homicide and 8 undetermined.

More than half of the deaths associated with natural causes were the result of heart disease or alcoholism.

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Accidental deaths were up nearly 50% overall compared with 2019 and drug overdose deaths were the leading cause with over 60% of the total. In 2019, drug overdose deaths represented less than 40% of all accidental deaths. Motor vehicle crashes were the 2nd-leading cause of accidental deaths in 2020 at 9% of the total.

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