Objective: To survey unnatural deaths among teenagers in northern Sweden and to suggest preventive measures.
Setting: The four northernmost counties (908,000 inhabitants, 1991), forming 55% of the area of Sweden.
Material and methods: All unnatural teenager deaths from 1981 through 2000 were identified in the databases of the Department of Forensic Medicine in Umea, National Board of Forensic Medicine. Police reports and autopsy findings were always studied, social and hospital records if present.
Results: Three hundred and fifty-five deaths were found, of which 267 (75%) were males and 88 (25%) females. Ninety out of 327 (28%) tested positive for alcohol. Two hundred and forty-eight (70%) were unintentional and 102 (30%) were intentional deaths, and five (1%) were categorized as undetermined manner of death. Unintentional deaths decreased while the incidence of intentional deaths remained unaffected by time.
Conclusions: Injury-reducing measures have been effective concerning unintentional deaths and the fall in young licensed drivers due to the economical recess have probably also contributed to the decrease. However, there were no signs of decreasing numbers of suicides during the study period, which calls for resources to be allocated to suicide prevention.