Hannu Sinkkonen of Finnish Customs told about an ongoing inquiry into online drug trafficking at a press conference in Helsinki on 4 December 2019. (Emmi Korhonen – Lehtikuva)

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THE NUMBER of drug-related deaths increased by 61 from the previous year to 261 in Finland in 2018, according to data published by Statistics Finland on Monday.

The majority of the deaths (169) were categorised as accidental poisonings from multiple substances – that is, the use of drugs with substances such as alcohol and psychotropic substances. The biggest relative increase, however, was observed in deaths caused by long-term drug use, which jumped from 29 to 49 in 2017–2018.

Drugs were also used to commit 35 suicides, which represents an increase of 13 from 2017.

The increase in drug-related deaths was observed in all age groups but, especially, in the 20–29 group, according to Statistics Finland. Drug-related deaths in the country, it said, focus on younger age groups than in Europe, where such deaths occur on average at the age of 33.

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There were 4.7 drug-related deaths per 100,000 inhabitants in Finland in 2018.

Drugs, drug trade and drug use have garnered plenty of public attention in Finland in December. Finnish Customs reported at the beginning of the month that it has determined the identities of thousands of Finnish drug buyers and sellers on an online marketplace known as Silkkitie and Valhalla.

“The administrators and sellers of services on the encrypted network have believed and made buyers believe that the online sales of drugs and other illegal products are ‘safe’ because of anonymity and, thereby, out of reach for authorities and not subject to criminal liability,” said Hannu Sinkkonen of Finnish Customs.

“This myth has been busted by now,” he added.

Finnish Customs revealed that a total of 400,000 screen names had been registered on Silkkitie. The marketplace had an offering of 78,000 different products and enabled the completion of roughly 500,000 transactions, the vast majority of which were to Finland.

The Finnish buyer were based all over the country and aged between 15 and 83 years.

Aleksi Teivainen – HT

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