Odds of Death Due to Injury, United States, 1998
July 24, 2002 12:46 PM   Subscribe

Odds of Death Due to Injury, United States, 1998 Your lifetime odds of dying from:
Air and space transport, 1 in 5,092
Poisoning by solids and liquids, 1 in 344
Drowning, 1 in 9,396
Firearms, 1 in 202
Jumping from high places, 1 in 7,402

posted by Blake (52 comments total)
 
Wow, a one in 4,000 chance of dying due to falling on a level surface.


And who are all these people dying from missles?
posted by delmoi at 12:55 PM on July 24, 2002


That's "firearm missile," delmoi. As in "missiles [projectiles] fired from firearms."
posted by whatnotever at 1:07 PM on July 24, 2002


if you've ever been scared of flying, just remember that the odds are 25x greater that you'll die from a dog bite than from an air accident...
posted by LuxFX at 1:07 PM on July 24, 2002


Ashes to ashes.
Dust to dust.
If the whiskey doesn't kill you,
The firearms must.
posted by nofundy at 1:09 PM on July 24, 2002


But LuxFX, they sometimes let dogs onto airplanes!
posted by whatnotever at 1:10 PM on July 24, 2002


What are the odds of being killed by your lover's jealous spouse?
posted by Holden at 1:10 PM on July 24, 2002


All causes combined: 1 in 1
posted by mr_crash_davis at 1:10 PM on July 24, 2002


1 in 1??

Shouldn't we be calling out for the banning of something?
posted by UncleFes at 1:12 PM on July 24, 2002


I recently read that nearly 29% of all deaths occur on Tuesdays or Wednesdays - I call for a ban on the middle of the week!
posted by gleuschk at 1:14 PM on July 24, 2002


Seems like a good place to mention that Unca Cecil is currently rebutting the "Your chances of being killed by a falling coconut are better than dying from a shark attack" meme over at Straight Dope. I see that one pop up quite a bit since it was discussed on MeFi a couple months back.
posted by RavinDave at 1:16 PM on July 24, 2002


The problem I have with these type of stastistics is that they ignore behavior.
Do my chances of being killed in air and space transport go down if I never fly? If I don't play golf and stay out of the rain am I less likely to be struck by lightning? If I never go in or on the water am I still as likely to drown? If I routinely swim in warm sunny ocean areas wearing shiny jewelry, am I more likely to be attacked by a shark? If I never read MeFi am I still as likely to be bombarded with crappy teen-rave, garage-band recommendations?
posted by HTuttle at 1:16 PM on July 24, 2002


I'm pleased to learn that my odds of dying from fireworks are precisely equal to my odds of suffocating inside my refrigerator.
posted by spilon at 1:17 PM on July 24, 2002


This reminds me of an Interview with Honest Ed Mirvish ( an (in)famous Toronto Retailer). He was asked the secret of living a long life and he replied "Keep breathing".

Transport deaths, Driving deaths, then Suicide. Sad.
posted by srboisvert at 1:18 PM on July 24, 2002


So then I'm only going to die 1 out of every 7,402 times I jump from a high place? Cool. I like those odds. There must be a building around here with my name on it. What are the odds if I don't bother with those silly parachutes, and what exactly constitutes a high versus a low place?

On an alternate note, do you realize that everybody that drank water in 1776 is dead right now? We got to regulate that stuff.
posted by willnot at 1:18 PM on July 24, 2002


I guess I didn't really know that nearly twice as many people killed themselves as were murdered. 30,000 people in a year is a whole hell of a lot. Huh.
posted by RJ Reynolds at 1:22 PM on July 24, 2002


What is death by "Legal Intervention"?
posted by culberjo at 1:26 PM on July 24, 2002


I'm surprised that no one has questioned the methodology of this study. From the site:

One year odds are approximated by dividing the 1998 population (270,248,000) by the number of deaths. Lifetime odds are approximated by dividing the one-year odds by the life expectancy of a person born in 1998 (76.7 years).

All of the one year and lifetime odds are based solely on the data from 1998. One year of occurences is hardly a good way to formulate these statistics.

What if there was a heatwave in 1997, but temperatures were much milder in 1998? What about laws passed enforcing seatbelt use and lowering the speed limit? What if 15 people died from snakebites in 1997, but only 3 in 1998? Clearly formulating the lifetime odds based entirely on one year of data is flawed.

These statistics can be a fun thing to talk and make jokes about, but try not to take it too seriously.
posted by rbellon at 1:33 PM on July 24, 2002


What is death by "Legal Intervention"?

O'l Sparky.
posted by McBain at 1:33 PM on July 24, 2002


"What is death by "Legal Intervention"?"

Family members successfully petition the courts for removal of a feeding tube from a comatose person?
posted by mr_crash_davis at 1:33 PM on July 24, 2002


I wish my odds of dying this way were a little higher.
posted by luriete at 1:38 PM on July 24, 2002


Ol' Sparky is the correct answer - the other guess would likely fall under either "delayed effects of x" or "x", depending on how long said person was on the feeding tube, and where "x" is what rendered the person unconscious.
posted by yhbc at 1:38 PM on July 24, 2002


rbellon:

Lifetime odds are approximated by dividing the one-year odds by the life expectancy of a person born in 1998 (76.7 years).

also, I doubt that the odds of dying from any one kind of accident are constant through a person's entire life.
posted by signal at 1:38 PM on July 24, 2002


Exactly, signal. For example, in 2002 your chance of being killed in a flying car accident is 0, but in 2005 it will be much greater.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 1:56 PM on July 24, 2002


We don't have flying cars yet? Popular Science let me down again.
posted by timeistight at 2:10 PM on July 24, 2002


"By falling earth (noncataclysmic cave-in) : 55"

What makes it cataclysmic? Who gets to decide what is cataclysmic? If I was one of those 55 folks. *I'd* be rather miffed that the earth cave-in that took my life was considered noncataclysmic.

I have the mental image of random raining earth, now....
posted by Windigo at 2:27 PM on July 24, 2002


I think Blake and I must be on the same mailing list.
posted by jjg at 2:38 PM on July 24, 2002


Cars suck. Number one direct killer of Americans. It amazes me we continue to allow the slaughter which doesnt includes deaths from pollution and other factors like global warming, oil wars, etc..
posted by stbalbach at 2:42 PM on July 24, 2002


Firearms, 1 in 202.

This would be a wonderful sample report for a volume of "How to Lie With Statistics."

This listing for firearms deaths (over a lifetime) is 1 in 202.

It is not immediately clear from the presentation, but pay attention to the categorical identifiers (E800-E999b). Look 7 lines up.

We come across "All Suicide Deaths, E950-E959." The actual firearms entry is: "Firearms, E955.0-E955.4" with odds of 1/202. However, this is for firearms suicides. Putting aside the morals/ethics of suicide aside for a minute, there are more painful ways to exit stage right then a bullet to the head.

It is too easy to lie with statistics. While 1/202 odds of dying by suicide from a firearm may be impressive, odds are those people would have found other methods for self-termination.
posted by kain at 2:56 PM on July 24, 2002


kain - i think you're arguing against an interpretation that i've either missed or just isn't there. nothing in those statistics claims firearms deaths don't include suicides. presumably autombile deaths include people driving into brick walls and motor vehicle exhaust gas includes people using tubes and falls includes people jumping from buildings and... so why shouldn't firearms deaths include people shooting themselves?
posted by andrew cooke at 3:08 PM on July 24, 2002


I'm just concerned that blake's post only mentioned that firearm death statistic.
posted by kain at 3:12 PM on July 24, 2002


Your chances of dying from assault by firearm are 1 in 299.
posted by grrarrgh00 at 3:18 PM on July 24, 2002


kain- Blake's post mentions five statistics, all pretty random and making no explicit point.
posted by eyeballkid at 3:20 PM on July 24, 2002


How does one calculate the "lifetime odds" of dying from say, any of the myriad of diseases associated with high infant mortality rates?

My point being that even the concept of 'life expectancy' assumes you have already survived many other dangers.
posted by vacapinta at 3:29 PM on July 24, 2002


I think it's "average life expectancy," vacapinta.
posted by timeistight at 3:36 PM on July 24, 2002


stbalbach, no, cancer and heart disease are the number one killers of Americans. This list is about death by injury. As far as death by transport accidents goes; traveling has always been dangerous. No one is forcing you to buy or even drive a car, get on a plane, ride a bike, or get on the bus.
posted by skallas at 3:40 PM on July 24, 2002


While 1/202 odds of dying by suicide from a firearm may be impressive, odds are those people would have found other methods for self-termination.

What exactly are the odds on that, kain? Maybe they'd take an overdose, get their stomach pumped, and make through their crisis alive.

The only way to really know would be to perform a multi-year study on too otherwise similar populations, one with easy access to firearms and one without.
posted by timeistight at 3:41 PM on July 24, 2002


Maybe they'd take an overdose, get their stomach pumped, and make through their crisis alive.

So you object to firearms based on their success in completing the purpose to which they were put? There's something very bizarre about that. What if we were to judge other tools by that measure? We want our hammers, our tractors, our computers to be good...but not too good....
posted by rushmc at 3:56 PM on July 24, 2002


No, no. Thats my whole point.

All these statistics only apply to you if you are an "average" person who has an average number of kids and goes to the beach an average number of days etc. Your mileage will of course vary.

Now, the yearly statistics I dont have too much of a problem with. Sure, as rbellon and signal pointed out above, the statististics for one year may not apply to your lifetime for a variety of reasons.

But I have a different point to make. If you die of lightning at the age of 30, you are no longer an average person. You cannot say "Your odds of dying of X every year are Y" and also say that we will assume that, according to your life expectancy you will live to 76. Thats what I was trying to point out by my infant mortality comment. Thats fallacy number one: You cannot use ensemble averages to calculate exceptions.

Put more starkly, what are the odds of you dying of a lightning strike at age 40 if you have already been fatally hit by a car at age 30. Well, you are an average person, so you shouldnt be dead yet.

Fallacy two: You cannot take a yearly average and spread it out over a lifetime to get a lifetime average. That is the same mistake as saying that If I roll a die six times then my odds of rolling a 1 are 100% after six rolls. Thats not how probability works.
posted by vacapinta at 4:08 PM on July 24, 2002


god who cares about fire arm statistics debates?

Guns are dangerious. They cause death. But also, they are fun.

You are much more likely to die in a Porche then a Taurus. does that mean we should ban Porches?
posted by delmoi at 4:15 PM on July 24, 2002


I apologize in advance for the drama here, but I want to comment. My sister died on June 28, 2002 after jumping off a seven-story building. She had tried repeatedly over twenty years to kill herself by overdose of prescription drugs and apparently wanted to be sure this time. Among other emotions, I am amazed at the courage it took to do that.

In reading suicide survivor message boards, I can't help noticing that the most common (anecdotally speaking) method stated is self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head. Full disclosure: my family is not a gun family. No one owns guns. No one hunts. We're New York Liberal Jews (TM) and we don't pack heat. It was just never part of our culture.

I can't help but wonder how much sooner Liz's life would have ended if there had been a gun around the house. I try not to be judgmental, but guns scare me.
posted by swerve at 4:35 PM on July 24, 2002


swerve: i hate to defend guns (i'm a brit and the whole idea of allowing everyone to have guns strikes me as plain stupid), but if she wanted to kill herself so much is it fair to stop her? obviously i know nothing about the individual case and i don't want to ask horrible (and uninformed) personal questions or bash you in anyway - i just wonder how much of wanting to "save" suicidal people is from a kind of selfishness (not wanting to lose someone we love dearly).

to level the playing field a little, let me add that i'm interested in this question because a relative and close friend is "schizophrenic". while he seems pretty happy with his life (despite making some unusual decisions), other members of the family want him to be "treated" and generally to change. including electro shock. obviously things are more complicated - this guy's decisions bring consequences on other members of the family, he has children, etc...

i hope the parallels are obvious - in either case what's the dividing line between love and coercion, especially when someone is mentally "ill"?
posted by andrew cooke at 5:00 PM on July 24, 2002


andrew: yeah, actually, I had a long and serious quality-of-life talk with her (instigated by her) about a year and a half ago, and just as she wanted, it's helping me a lot now. I don't want to judge, because man, she tried. She tried for twenty y ears. So I'm grieving, but I think she's at peace.

On the other hand, some weird statistic (yeah, I know, how to lie with statistics) says a majority of suicides are impulsive, as defined by "decided within five minutes of committing the act." I'm suggesting that the act could be prevented in some cases by not having easy access to a gun. I'm suggesting that in most cases, suicides shouldn't succeed. They should stick around and work it out.«
posted by swerve at 5:36 PM on July 24, 2002


Mac + Netscape = gibberish and extra spaces in posts. Sorry.Ë?
posted by swerve at 5:38 PM on July 24, 2002


Benny Hill:

The odds of there being a bomb on your plane are a million ot one. The odds against two bombs being on your plane are a million times a million to one. Next time, cut the odds and bring a bomb.
posted by planetkyoto at 6:02 PM on July 24, 2002


so if i jump off a cliff with lead weights around my ankles into a large (deep) pool of poisonous liquid, what does that count as?
posted by juv3nal at 6:07 PM on July 24, 2002


He was asked the secret of living a long life and he replied "Keep breathing".

Excellent quote, srboisvert. It reminded me of the first lines of a book by William Saroyan that read something like,

"So, to begin, Mr. Saroyan, to what do you credit your long life?"
"Not dying. Who did you say you were?"
posted by Bixby23 at 6:37 PM on July 24, 2002


"so if i jump off a cliff with lead weights around my ankles into a large (deep) pool of poisonous liquid, what does that count as?"

During sport or recreation, E910.0-E910.2

At least, that's what it would be for me. Heh.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 6:43 PM on July 24, 2002


air *AND* space transport??

a more accurate reassessment of the bomb/airplane scenario is the chances of explosives in general being on board, with potential and intent to ignite.

Of course, I know you're not serious, but it made me wonder for a moment.. whatever lol
posted by firestorm at 7:24 PM on July 24, 2002


if she wanted to kill herself so much is it fair to stop her?

To me, it depends on whether the person has a rational reason for doing it. Having end-stage cancer, and anticipating no future but pain, or a narcotic-induced daze, strikes me as a rational reason. [Although, most cancer pain can be controlled satisfactorily with narcotics.]

Being depressed isn't a good reason. Depression is a false state of mind. The feelings of guilt and worthlessness people feel during depression that drive them to suicide are false feelings. Some of the most brilliant, creative people -- Churchill, John Cleese, Virginia Woolf, William Styron -- have suffered from severe depression. Were it in my power, I wouldn't let any of them commit suicide.

Sometimes, depression can be successfully treated. I'm sorry it didn't work in swerve's sister. Or Virginia Woolf. But it did work in Styron, and Cleese seems to gotten control of his depression. I think it's really the wrong thing to do to allow someone whose mind is deranged by a treatable, reversible disease to kill themselves before they can be treated.
posted by Slithy_Tove at 10:41 PM on July 24, 2002


does that mean we should ban Porches?

Gee, I hope not. I just finished building a nice one on my house. The dog really likes it too. Now I can wave at my neighbors as they pass like a real countrified gentleman. Please don't ban my porch!!
posted by nofundy at 5:47 AM on July 25, 2002


Depression is a false state of mind.

That presumes that there is a "normal" state of mind, and it just isn't that cut-and-dried.
posted by rushmc at 3:19 PM on July 25, 2002


The feelings of guilt and worthlessness people feel during depression that drive them to suicide are false feelings.

There's nothing false about them. They are wholly authentic feelings. Pure as pure can be.
posted by five fresh fish at 3:44 PM on July 25, 2002


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