High number of shipwrecks during the war period is accompanied by high numbers of lives lost.
Stating the obvious: more lives are lost during the war
Although this appears to be a straightforward correlation, the fact that life casualties skyrocketed in 1942 is significant as even though shipwrecks happened relatively frequently prior to the war, there were very few lives that were lost. In the past, many ships actually went down with 0 casualties. However, during the period of WWII, the count of casualties are the highest it has been since 1936.
A shock to New Jersey citizens
The downward trend of casualties starting from 1935 is possibly explained by Roosevelt’s Neutrality Act in 1935 which banned American ships from getting involved in war and carrying weapons for war. The number of casualties actually declined to almost 0 in the periods before the war, which perhaps made the violence of war more shocking than ever to the New Jersey citizens.