KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Overall deaths in Knox and Anderson counties have increased by 12%, this is according to the Knox County Regional Forensic Center’s annual report. The biggest takeaways came with car accidents at a 30% increase, while homicides in Knox County alone rose six percent.

“If you compare us to places like the Memphis region or Baltimore, Nashville, we still have relatively low numbers compared to those,” Chris Thomas, the chief administrative officer of the forensic center, said.

When looking at the cause of these increases, Thomas said the growth of the area plays a role, which shows. Accidental deaths went up 32% and cases requiring an autopsy increased by 27%. 

“It definitely is a population increase correlation between it, so the larger the population grows, the more decedents we’re going to get,” Thomas said.

When looking at how to help curve these numbers, Thomas says they work closely with law enforcement and different organizations to help reach communities and provide resources. An example of this tactic working comes into play with death by suicide. According to the report, there was a decrease.

“There’s been a lot of public attention in media toward mental health, reaching out and talking to people and I believe that’s made a change here because other parts of the country are talking about record numbers on suicides, Knox County had a decrease on suicides and it was the only mannered death we did have a decrease on,” Thomas said.

Thomas also mentioned overdose deaths were the single largest increase of any deaths they had this year. Out of the 23 counties they serve, there were over 1000 deaths. That full report on overdoses will be out in the coming weeks.