Reported by Rikki King
Death is different from far away. Up close, it’s overwhelming, our ultimate primal fear. Death ruptures into big, black clouds of grief. Yet within, there is renewal — and there are life lessons. However personal, how we die says something about who we are.
About 4,500 people die in Snohomish County each year. Most deaths are reported to the Snohomish County Medical Examiner’s Office. Of those, only a fraction require some sort of investigation.
Deaths are categorized by cause and manner. Cause is the medical reason someone dies, such as blunt-force injury or asphyxia. In Washington, the manner of death can be classified in one of six ways: natural, accident, suicide, homicide, undetermined and pending.
The great majority of people here die from natural causes or accidents. Accidental deaths are most often caused by falls and fractures, poisonings — which include drug and alcohol overdoses — and car wrecks. Few people die from violence inflicted by others.
Our age has a lot to do with how we die.
Children and teenagers are most vulnerable to birth defects and accidents. Young adults must survive accidents — and themselves. Suicide is a leading cause of death until people reach their mid-60s. Cancer is another heavy contender.
Deaths by traffic accidents happen regardless of age. The same is true of deaths linked to drug and alcohol. Until age 40, more men die from overdoses than women, then the pattern reverses.
Homicides are most common among the young, particularly people in their 20s. Most victims are male. Half died from gunshot wounds. Most of the rest were beaten or stabbed.
The numbers may tell a story, but they don’t sum up a life.
Top 10 causes of death in Snohomish County in 2008
2. Heart disease
4. Alzheimer’s disease
6. Lung disease
8. Infectious and parasitic disease
9. Influenza and pneumonia
10. Liver disease
Source: Snohomish Health District
Death by age in Snohomish County
These are only the most prevalent causes of death in each range in 2008.
|Cause of death||Deaths||Percent of deaths
within age range
|Rate per 100,000
in age range
|Problems that began
in late pregnancy and early life
|Ages 18-24||Deaths||% in age||Per 100K|
|Ages 25-44||Deaths||% in age||Per 100K|
|Influenza and pneumonia||5||2.4%||2.4|
|Ages 45-64||Deaths||% in age||Per 100K|
|Ages 65-74||Deaths||% in age||Per 100K|
|Age 75+||Deaths||% in age||Per 100K|
Statewide mortality data
The state generally does not calculate rates per 100,000 people for categories with very few deaths, so some counties aren’t represented in some categories of death in the charts below. Source: Washington State Department of Health, Center for Health Statistics.
Life expectancy and death rates by Washington county, 2009
Click on the box below to activate the data visualization, then mouse over the bars to see their data. You can choose different data categories, as well.
Mortality in Washington, 2009
Click on the box below to activate the data visualization, then mouse over the counties to see their data. You can choose different data categories, as well.