Top 10 most likely ways to die…

09.04.07 | 5 Comments

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What are the most likely ways to die here in the US? The answer might surprise you. For a person born in the year 2003, the list below represents the 10 most likely death methods…

Table containing the top 10 manners of accidental or self-inflicted deaths ordered by odds of death for a person born in the year 2003.

Notes: These odds do not include mortality by disease or natural causes – these odds are related to external factors and self-determined factors. The data was catalogued by the National Safety Council and the source is available here. The data in the table represents the highest risk at the “leaf level” from the charts. There are higher risks across aggregations of factors.

It’s pretty clear from the table above that one should steer clear of firearms, drugs, falling, and driving! When you look at the aggregated categories, it’s even more clear. The items above are discrete leaf level causes of death. For example, the lifetime odds of dying from an accident are 1 in 34. Getting more specific, the lifetime odds of dying from a transport accident are 1 in 78, getting even more specific, the lifetime odds of dying in a motor vehicle related accident are 1 in 84. The highest leaf level risk is listed above in the chart, occupant in a car accident at 1 in 237.

There are also some odd ways to die that are recorded. A couple of interesting ones are:

  • Three people were killed by ignition or melting of nightware. Lifetime odds of death in this manner? 1 in 1,249,356.
  • Forty eight people were killed by overexertion, travel and privation. Lifetime odds of death in this manner? 1 in 78,085
  • Five hundred and ninety-seven people were killed by slipping, tripping, and stumbling. Lifetime odds of death in this manner? 1 in 6,278

Data like this is very interesting. I think it shows us where we, as a society, should be investing in our own safety. Curiously, in 2003 in the US there were no deaths due to terrorism. If we wind back the clock to the year 2001 and look at the 3,000 deaths due to terror and run these numbers, we come up with a single year number of 1 in 95,075 and a lifetime number of 1,225. However, if we do this calculation for the year 2003, the odds are astronomical because there were no recorded fatalities due to terrorism in that year on US soil. The risk isn’t zero, but it’s not particularly high either, it doesn’t crack the top 10 even with 2001 data.

The numbers are clear – our priorities are wrong with regard to dealing with the real risks of death in our society.

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