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Stats show unprecedented Wyoming death rates

Cancer, heart disease lead causes, births up in 2021


April 21, 2022

The Vital Statistics Services division of the Wyoming Department of Health has released data showing that 2021 was a second year of unprecedented death rates in this state.

However, there were also more births and marriages in Wyoming, and fewer divorces.

A total of 6572 deaths were recorded in 2021 and 5986 in 2020. For context, 2019 saw a lower death rate of 5122.

Specific figures for Crook County in 2021 were not available at time of going to press. However, local death rates did show a considerable jump in 2020 with 106 deaths recorded, as compared to the relatively steady few years beforehand, which saw 66 in 2019, 69 in 2018 and 63 in 2018.

A gradual increase in the number of deaths in Wyoming is not unexpected.

“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.”

COVID-19 was not, however, the leading cause of death. The top five causes in 2021, in order, were cancers (1151 deaths), heart diseases (1113), COVID-19 (1025), accidents and adverse effects (379) and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (355).

Suicides in Wyoming have also been increasing over time.

“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.”

A total of 189 suicides recorded in 2021, seven more than in 2020 and 20 more than in 2019.

“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.”

But 2021 also brought good news for Wyoming’s population.

“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.”

Exactly 100 more babies were born to Wyoming mothers last year than in 2020; a total of 6232, compared to 6132 in 2020.

Meanwhile, 2021 saw 4274 marriages, an increase from the 3986 in 2020 and 4062 in 2019. Fewer Wyoming couples divorced: 2158, compared to 2227 in 2020 and 2253 in 2019.


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