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King County Reports Lowest Rates for Traffic Deaths, Homicides in 10 Years

In contrast, drug-induced deaths are an increasing concern in King County.

Editor's note: The following is a news release from King County Public Health.

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In 2011, King County saw the fewest traffic deaths and homicides in more than 10 years, according to the King County Medical Examiner's (KCME) Annual Report released this week.

In contrast, drug-induced deaths are an increasing concern in King County. The KCME 2011 Annual Report presents a detailed analysis of deaths that fell under KCME's jurisdiction in 2011, including suspicious, sudden, unexpected or violent deaths in King County, as well as trends in homicides, traffic fatalities and drug overdose deaths.

The full King County Medical Examiner's 2011 Annual Report is available at www.kingcounty.gov/health/examiner.

"Medical Examiner death reviews support Public Health’s prevention efforts,” said Dr. David Fleming, Director and Health Officer for Public Health—Seattle & King County. "We can target prevention efforts based on our understanding of circumstances, risk factors and trends of these deaths. For example, we're able to identify the leading causes of deaths from traffic crashes—including alcohol and drug impairment, speed, and failure to wear seat belts—and work to address them.”

Findings from the 2011 annual report include:

  • Compared with 2010, KCME saw fewer homicides and traffic deaths, and an increase in suicides.
  • More people died as a result of accidental overdoses (203) than traffic crashes (135).
  • The number of deaths in which oxycodone was present increased by 30 percent, from 65 in 2010 to 85 in 2011.

In 2011, there were an estimated 13,355 deaths in King County. KCME assumed jurisdiction in 2,112 deaths and performed autopsies 59 percent (1,196) of the time.

"Every death we review receives our fullest respect and attention," said Dr. Richard Harruff, Chief Medical Examiner. "We work to investigate and resolve the manner and cause of death as quickly as possible, and in the most scientific and professional manner so grieving loved ones can find some solace."

Comparison of Manners of Death / KCME Cases / 2000 - 2010 MANNER OF DEATH 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 Accident (Other) 472 485 542 602 721 687 739 632 593 594 Accident (Traffic) 203 179 192 226 211 170 163 141 150 135 Homicide 93 93 76 80 91 76 85 63 59 54 Natural 661 770 765 763 752 863 871 989 953 926 Suicide 200 217 229 233 227 223 210 253 232 265 Undetermined 55 71 59 41 53 53 53 59 73 62 Totals 1,684 1,815 1,863 1,945 2,055 2,072 2,121 2,137 2,060 2,036

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