So, how do people die?
Setting aside the very first question for now, i.e. what is the object of this game
of life? – which can be an interesting trip down the rabbit hole.
Let us ponder on how do people die?
First, the simple answer: I just look up the World Health Organization (WHO) statistics or US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) data and listed there are the leading causes of death. Of course, the causes vary by demographics.
In 2010, the latest year for which we have complete statistics in the US, 2,468,435 people died. Here are deaths from all the causes and the number and percent from each cause:
1. 597,689 24.2% Diseases of the Heart (heart disease)
2. 574,743 23.3% Malignant neoplasm (cancer)
3. 138,080 5.6% Chronic lower respiratory disease
4. 129,476 5.2% Cerebrovascular diseases (stroke)
5. 120,859 5.2% Accidents (unintentional injuries)
6. 83,494 3.4% Alzheimer’s disease
7. 83,494 2.8% Diabetes Mellitus (diabetes)
8. 50,476 2.0% Nephritis, nephrotic syndrome and nephrosis (kidney disease)
9. 50,097 2.0% Influenza and pneumonia
10. 38,364 1.6% Intentional self-harm (suicide)
11. 34,812 1.4% Septicemia (blood infection)
12. 31,903 1.3% Cirrhosis (liver disease)
13. 26,634 1.1% Hypertension & hypertensive diseases (high blood pressure)
14. 22,032 0.9% Parkinson’s disease
15. 17,011 0.7% Pneumonitis due to solids and liquids
16. 438,694 19.6% All other causes ( including “natural causes”)
So, there you have it!
Except, that this data begs several questions,
First, what are “All other causes”? That category is large enough to be the third largest cause of death.
Some of these causes show up when we look at the top mortality causes for low income nations: HIV/AIDS, malaria, diarrhea, tuberculosis, all causes of infant mortality, malnutrition, cholera, meningitis, sexually transmitted infection, etc.
I still have not found a good source of raw data for the US, so I can comb through all causes. After all, it would be useful to know all reasons, when shooting for longevity. Do you have a good source of such data?
Second, what does it mean to die of “old age” or of “natural causes”?
One common answer I have seen cited repeatedly is that all old age (or “natural”) deaths are really caused by traumatic events (may be from the above list) that prove fatal due to body’s inability to recover,
Does someone have another answer to this question?