CHEYENNE, Wyo. — Fewer deaths, births, marriages and divorces were recorded among Wyoming residents in 2022 compared to the previous year, according to official records held by Vital Statistics Services, which is part of the Wyoming Department of Health.
Among Wyoming residents, there were 5,886 deaths recorded in 2022, 6,572 deaths in 2021, 5,986 deaths in 2020 and 5,122 deaths in 2019, according to official death certificate information. Death certificates are completed by attending physicians and coroners and then filed with VSS.
“Wyoming’s data showed consistent, modest increases in deaths before the pandemic for several years largely due to our aging population,” said Guy Beaudoin, VSS deputy state registrar with the WDH. “The COVID-19 pandemic was a factor behind the sharply increased recorded deaths we saw in 2020 and 2021. The numbers are still higher than we would have expected before the pandemic, but may be beginning to return to a more normal state.”
Stefan Johansson, WDH director, said, “There was a notable reduction in suicides last year. This is certainly something we welcome. There could be several factors involved such as increased attention toward mental health issues both in our state and across the country.”
In 2022, there were 149 suicides recorded among Wyoming residents compared to 190 in 2021. Previously, there were 182 in 2020, 170 in 2019, 148 in 2018, 156 in 2017, 143 in 2016, 155 in 2015, 120 in 2014 and 128 in 2013.
Johansson noted Wyoming’s small population can often lead to significant swings between years with certain types of statistics.
“That’s why it’s important to look at longer-term trends and rates in addition to year-over-year numbers. Between years, sometimes there are increases and sometimes there are reductions,” he said.
Wyoming’s data show about 72% of suicide deaths in 2022 were due to firearms, with 22% due to hanging and 4% due to poisoning.
Beaudoin noted deaths linked to overdoses have also increased between some years and decreased between others.
“In 2022 there was a slight decrease as compared to the year before based on death certificate data,” he said.
In 2022, there were 93 overdose deaths recorded among Wyoming residents compared to 98 in 2021. Previously, there were 90 in 2020, 81 in 2019, 65 in 2018, 60 in 2017, 94 in 2016, 95 in 2015 , 107 in 2014 and 96 in 2013.
Among the reported overdose deaths in 2022, 29% were linked with prescription drugs, 59% with illicit drugs and 10% with a combination. Opioids can be either prescription drugs or illicit drugs and were connected to 72 of the reported overdose deaths last year. Fentanyl was linked with 48 of the deaths and methamphetamine with 47.
“Adding these numbers gives you a higher number than the total because of drug definitions and because overdoses often involve ‘combined’ drugs or multiple drugs,” Beaudoin said.
The top five causes of death in Wyoming for 2022, listed in order, were heart diseases, cancers, various types of accidents and adverse effects, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and related conditions and COVID-19. COVID-19 had been the third-leading cause of death in both 2020 and 2021.
“When it comes to new babies, in 2022 we returned to the ongoing significant downward trend we’d seen over several years with the exception of an increase in 2021,” Beaudoin said.
There were 6,050 births among Wyoming resident mothers in 2022 compared with 6,236 in 2021, 6,133 in 2020 and 6,568 in 2019 before the pandemic. The high over the past decade was in 2015 with 7,662 resident births.
VSS also holds marriage and divorce records. There were 4,227 marriages recorded in Wyoming last year compared to 4,284 in 2021, 4,009 in 2020 and 4,064 in 2019 before the pandemic. As far as divorces, there were 1,905 finalized in 2022 compared with 2,165 in 2021, 2,220 divorces in 2020 and 2,241 in 2019 before the pandemic.
The records are considered provisional at this point; minor adjustments are expected as numbers are finalized.
VSS promotes and protects the health of Wyoming residents by serving as the official custodian of all vital records in the state and by distributing health information.
For more details about VSS, visit https://health.wyo.gov/admin/vitalstatistics/.