Why is this important?
The causes of death in a community have an
obvious impact on the quality of life by shortening
potential lifespan. Perhaps less apparent is
how fatal illnesses and injuries result in
lost companionship, lost family income, and
severe emotional and financial costs during
end-of-life health care.
What is the measure?
Local and state health departments in coordination
with the coroner’s office collect information
about causes of death. It should be noted that "heart
attack" death rates do not include deaths
due to heart rhythm disturbances, heart valve
disease or other heart conditions unrelated
to coronary circulation.
How are we doing?
The death rates for cancer and for heart attacks
decreased significantly in both Tuolumne County
and California between the periods 2001-2003
and 2003-2005. While cancer deaths in Tuolumne
County continued to exceed heart attack deaths,
for the first time the same was true for the
Tuolumne County continues to have high death
rates due to unintentional injuries, many of
which can be explained by elevated rates of
motor vehicle accident and drug induced fatalities.
However, other occupational and recreational
accidents also account for this excess mortality.
The community mobilized over the past two
years to address the elevated suicide rate
in Tuolumne County. Identified risk factors
for suicide include the rural nature of our
communities and local demographics. A coordinated
effort between law enforcement and the health
community also recently addressed increasing
rates of overdose deaths.