Finland’s alcohol deaths drop dramatically over past two decades

Between 2004 and 2017 the number of acute alcohol poisonings decreased 60.1% in Finland, and researchers say this reflects changes in the overall consumption of alcohol.

File picture of alcohol in Estonia / Credit: News Now Finland

The number of people in Finland who died from alcohol poisoning has dropped dramatically in the last 15 years.

A new study carried out by researchers at the University of Helsinki and the National Institute of Health and Welfare THL looked at fatal alcohol intoxication in Finland between 1987 and 2019.

During those years, the highest number of deaths from alcohol poisoning happened in 2004 – with 542 deaths.

Between 2004 and 2017 the number of acute alcohol poisonings decreased 60.1%. At the same time the number of alcohol induced illnesses in the study material remained stable or decreased marginally.

After 2009 the number of deaths fell even more sharply and by 2017 had fallen to less than half their peak. But by 2018 the decline seems to have stopped.

Researchers say they’ve got lots of data in Finland to review.

“In Finland, the forensic investigation of the cause of death is much more comprehensive than in other European countries” says Pirkko Kriikku, a researcher at THL.

“As a result, we had access to 12,000 alcohol poisoning records at a population level” she explains.

Researchers conclude that the significant decrease in the number of fatal alcohol poisonings “likely reflects changes in the overall consumption of alcohol” in Finland over the time-span of their study.

File picture of hard liquor on shelf / Credit: News Now Finland

Who is dying from alcohol poisoning? 

The average Finnish person who dies from alcohol poisoning is male and over 45, according to the research.

Typically, less than 20% of all alcohol deaths have been people under 45 years old; and women represent a clear minority in alcohol poisoning deaths.

On average, women were 2.5 years older than men at time of death. In the under-45 age group, the proportion of women was significantly lower than in the over-45 age group.