Howard Lake-Waverly Herald, July 24, 2000

Wright County death stats discussed

By John Holler

There likely isn't anyone who enjoys talking about death, but the Wright County Board spent a portion of its July 18 meeting doing just that - hearing good news and bad news about death within the borders of the county.

The discussion was part of the annual report from County Coroner Janis Amatuzio, who explained that her job is not only to catalog deaths, but to give reasons why people die and analyze the statistics that surround deaths.

"Part of my job is to show the patterns of deaths," Amatuzio said. "What we found this last year was that the number of accidental deaths has dropped and so has the suicide rate. I think that points to us having a 'happier' county."

While the death rate continues to grow - the 238 deaths in Wright County in 1999 showed an increase for the fourth straight year - all but 25 were the result of natural causes.

Amatuzio was pleased to announce that no cases of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) occurred in 1999, and accidental deaths were down from 26 in 1997 to 16 last year. More heartening, she said, was that suicides have dropped from 13 in 1997 to seven last year.

The only death rate that went up were homicides, with two bodies found - one in Otsego and one in South Haven. Her report touched on bizarre statistics as well, such as that of the 31 deaths from motor vehicle accidents recorded over the last three years only three of the deaths were alcohol-related, and nobody died in a car accident on a Wednesday last year.

While the discussion of death seemed a bit macabre for some tastes, Amatuzio said that finding the causes and trends of death makes her job one that she truly enjoys.

"This job is fascinating," Amatuzio said. "Our department has the duty of answering the question 'why?' when it comes to determining the death of an individual.

"The most rewarding part is being able to come up with answers for the families as to why someone they loved died."

The board unanimously accepted the report and, in a bit of gallows humor, suggested maybe moving the day of board meetings to Wednesdays after seeing the statistics.


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