Violence and Injury Prevention

Historical trend series data on deaths from road traffic accidents, suicide and homicide

Mortality data by country, year, cause of death, age and sex are transmitted regularly to WHO. They are therefore considered as official national statistics as reported by the competent authorities of the countries concerned. At the country level, information on causes of death is compiled from individual death certificates as recorded in civil registries. The cause of death is medically-certified. More information on the WHO Mortality Database is available at

Around 120 countries report cause-of-death data to WHO annually. However only data which are properly coded according to the 7th to 10th revision of the International Classification of Diseases (ICD) are included in the WHO Mortality Database.

Definition of cause of death

The cause of death reported should be the underlying cause of death which is defined as “the disease or injury which initiated the train of morbid events leading directly to death, or the circumstances of the accident or violence which produced the fatal injury” in accordance with the rules of the ICD.

Age-standardized death rates

Deaths from road traffic crashes, suicide and homicide were extracted as per ICD codes for the period 1950-2008. The age-standardized death rates were calculated using the world standard population.

Results are presented for countries with total population greater than 500,000 and data completeness more than 75%.

Data from specific countries or specific years with highly problematic data are excluded. Hence the results of age-standardized death rates are presented for a total of 75 countries from 1950-2008 by sex and broad age-group.

Data limitations

Several factors would affect the comparability of data over time. These are mainly related to the data completeness, use of various ICD revisions over time, type of certifiers, and social stigma in reporting certain causes of death.