Santa Barbara County’s Leading Causes of Death Revealed in New Report

White Non-Hispanic Residents Had Nearly Three Times Higher Mortality Rates than Hispanic Residents

Grave stones Santa Barbara Cemetery | Credit: Daniel Dreifuss (file)

Over the past three years, the death rate for Santa Barbara County’s Hispanic residents declined by 40 percent, while the death rate for White non-Hispanic residents increased by 46 percent. Between 2018 and 2020, the White death rate — 899.5 per 100,000 — was the highest in the county and nearly three times higher than the death rate for Hispanic residents. This information comes courtesy of a new report on the leading causes of death in Santa Barbara County. 

The report includes only one year with complete stats on the impact of COVID. When adjusting for age, county statisticians concluded that COVID was responsible for 30.5 deaths per 100,000 in 2020. That would place it as the sixth leading cause of death for the entire three-year period, right behind strokes. Cancer remains the leading cause of death, followed by heart disease and unintentional injuries. Suicide ranked ninth.

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Men dominated all four of these categories. Women dominated in number of deaths caused by Alzheimer’s, which ranked fourth. During this time span, 3,286 residents — on average — died per year. Of the three years in consideration, 2020 saw the sharpest spike in numbers — up to 3,466 from 3,214 the year before. 

As for the relative decrease in Hispanic residents’ deaths, the report stated, “There was no singular explanation,” but noted that in 2019, the county experienced a large decrease in its Hispanic populations. 

CORRECTION: COVID was the sixth leading cause of death for the entire 2018-2020 period, not fifth for the year 2020 alone as originally reported.

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