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King County has fewest homicides in 10 years

2010 Medical Examiner's annual report shows King County death statistics and trends

In 2010, King County saw the lowest number of deaths due to homicide — 59 — in the past 10 years. The number of suicides also declined, dropping nearly 10 percent from 2009, according to the King County Medical Examiner's (KCME) report released today.

There were no homicides in Bothell and Kenmore. Bothell had six non-traffic-related accidental deaths and three suicides; Kenmore had seven non-traffic-related accidental deaths and one suicide.

The KCME 2010 annual report presents a detailed analysis of deaths that fell under KCME's jurisdiction in 2010, including suspicious, sudden, unexpected or violent deaths in King County, as well as trends in homicides, traffic fatalities and drug overdose deaths.

Other findings from the 2010 annual report include:

• Compared with 2009, King County had fewer homicides, suicides, accidental deaths and deaths from natural causes.

• Traffic fatalities declined by nearly one-third over the past 10 years.

• 18 infants died from SIDS.

• While accidental drug overdoses declined from 2009 to 2010, they still comprised more than a third of all accidental deaths.

• Firearms were the most frequent instrument of death in homicides and suicides.

• 156 organ transplants were possible in 2010 from KCME cases.

There was a substantial decrease in the number of methadone and oxycodone deaths from 2009 to 2010. Methadone was present in 77 deaths in 2010, compared to 129 in 2009, and was the primary cause of death in 67 of those deaths in 2010, compared to 85 in 2009. Oxycodone was present in 77 deaths in 2010 compared to 105 deaths in 2009. It will be important to continue tracking these overdose deaths to see if the trend is sustained.

“Understanding how and why people died in King County allows us to target our public-health efforts to prevent early deaths,” said Dr. David Fleming, director and health officer for Public Health — Seattle & King County. “Take traffic fatalities, for example. We know that alcohol and drug impairment, speed and not wearing seatbelts contribute to traffic fatalities. So we work with partners throughout King County to help alleviate those causes and hopefully save lives."

In 2010, there were an estimated 12,959 deaths in King County. KCME assumed jurisdiction in 2,060 deaths and performed autopsies approximately nine percent (1,199) of the time.

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