Spokane County Medical Examiner: Number of homicides, drug overdoses rose in 2020

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SPOKANE CO., Wash. — New data from the Medical Examiner’s Office shows there has been a rise in homicides, vehicular deaths and drug overdoses in Spokane County. 

The ME’s annual report shows the number of deaths across the county and those investigated by the office in 2020. 

There were 5,954 total deaths in Spokane County last year, which is equivalent to about 1.1 percent of the population. Of those deaths, 36.7 percent were reported to the ME’s Office. 

Homicide

There were 38 recorded homicides in Spokane County last year, which is an increase of 19 over the previous year. The ME says firearms account for the single largest method of homicide, which is defined as death due to the acts of another. 

Vehicular Deaths

Vehicular deaths were also up in 2020 compared to previous years. There were 72 vehicular deaths in Spokane County, which is an increase of 21 cases from the previous year. It is also the highest number recorded since 2015. 

Drug Overdose Deaths

The ME says 125 people died from drug overdoses last year. Of those, 115 were accidental deaths with prescription or illicit drugs, while 10 were intentional (suicide). 

Methamphetamine was the most common illicit drug causing or contributing to death, but the number of fatal fentanyl overdoses has risen greatly. There was one fentanyl-related death in Spokane County in 2018; there were 11 in 2019 and a record high of 28 in 2020. 

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Suicide 

There were 99 suicides in 2020, which is an increase of four from 2019. The ME says the highest number of suicides fell between the 20-69 age gap, while suicide numbers peaked in the 20-49 age range. 

Suicides were up from 2019, but were down compared to 2018 and 2017. Data show that 2017 saw the most suicides in Spokane County over the course of the last six years. 

The Centers for Disease Control says the number of total suicides across the country actually declined by five percent in 2020. This is also the second year in a row that the number has fallen. 

In Spokane County, firearms are the leading weapon used in suicides. 

Natural Deaths

The ME also keeps records on natural deaths. The most common cause in Spokane County is atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease, which is typical of national statistics. 

Read the full report here. 

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