The Wyoming Department of Health says the Cowboy State saw a significant spike in deaths during 2020.

According to a news release, there were 5,983 deaths last year compared to 5,121 in 2019 — an increase of 862.

The department says death certificates are completed by attending physicians and coroners then filed with the state.

State Vital Statistics Services deputy registrar Guy Beaudoin said data has shown a "steady, small increases in deaths" over several years thanks to the state's aging population.

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"But before the COVID-19 pandemic hit, we never would have predicted the large jump we saw in 2020."

“It’s clear that COVID-19 was a driving factor for increased deaths in 2020 in addition to the small growth we would have expected due to Wyoming’s overall aging population," Beaudoin added. "It’s not nearly as clear what caused the other ‘excess deaths’ but possibilities include COVID-19 related deaths that were missed or the avoidance of either routine or emergency medical care during the pandemic."

Nearly 530 Wyomingites died from COVID, according to the health department.

According to Beaudoin, the top five causes of death in Wyoming were heart disease, cancer, COVID-19, COPD and related conditions along with various types of accidents.

Suicides are also trending up in Wyoming, Beaudoin said.

Last year, 181 suicides were reported in Wyoming compared to 170 the previous year and 148 in 2018.

Overdose deaths in Wyoming were up slightly to 89 in 2020 from 2019's 81.

But, 65 Wyomingites died from an overdose in 2018 and 60 died in 2017. However, that number has fluctuated substantially with a high of 107 in 2014.

Meanwhile, births in Wyoming are continuing to significantly decline. Last year saw 6,127 births compared to 6,567 in 2019. The high this decade was in 2,015 where 7,716 babies were born in Wyoming.

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