Ashes to ashes. Dust to dust. From sand we came, to sand we’ll return. No matter what we do, no matter how hard we try, one day we’re living, the next we’re clocking out for the long nap.
We all know this, but still, the thought of death is extremely scary for most people. I think this is because unlike most other things in life, we don’t know anything about death.
We don’t know when we’ll die, how we’ll die, or even why we die. We don’t know if death is the end or if it’s only the beginning of something else. We just don’t know.
However, thanks to statistics and probability, we might be able to predict how we’re going to die.
Most of the time when we talk about death prevention, people think of locking the door to their houses, learning martial arts, or carrying around a weapon for self-defense.
We try to protect ourselves from the other people who might want to harm us. But in reality, the person most likely to kill you is you. The odds of dying by suicide are significantly higher than the odds of getting murdered.
Because we’re always in our heads, we’re always aware of all the wrong we’ve ever done. We become judge, jury, and executioner in our own court case, and we sentence ourselves to punishments that we don’t deserve. Our minds keep us in solitary confinement with soundproof doors so no one outside can ever hear us scream.
Slowly it drains life out until there’s nothing left.
With how common suicide is, it’s surprising to see how some people still treat issues relating to mental health. The way we treat mental health overall has improved, yes. But there’s still a long way to go.
If someone came to tell you that they felt unsafe and they’ve been seeing someone around them who might try to kill them, your first reaction probably wouldn’t be “are you sure?” or “it’s probably just all in your head, just don’t think that way.” Instead you would probably get the person to a place where they feel safe and away from their potential attacker.
So why is it that when it comes to mental health issues that are more likely to kill us, we aren’t as kind to one another? We tell people to stop sulking and just be happy as if there’s a light switch in their head that they can simply click on and off to control their emotions.
We tell them that they aren’t being strong enough as if they can fight the demons in their head with their bare hands.
We need to start treating people in serious mental health crises the same way we would treat people that are about to get murdered. Instead of telling them to “be happy” or “be strong,” let’s help get them to a place where they feel safe.
Because in reality when someone is murdered, it’s a guy who opens his door and gets shot. But when it’s suicide, he is also the one who knocks. When he knocks, we need to, figuratively, lock our doors, learn martial arts, and carry around a weapon for self defense.
This can include things like taking some time off to clear your head and just breathe, doing mindfulness practices like meditation, and of course, seeking actual professional help.
When we’re not the ones doing the job, dying by murder is surprisingly unlikely. However, if you will get murdered, you’ll most likely be killed by someone you know, rather than a stranger.
Most murders are carried out with a gun. It’s one of man’s deadliest inventions, and to be lethal with it, you don’t need to have much skill, prior training, or physical strength. You don’t need to know how to shoot or need to have shot before. Just pull the trigger and you will cause a lot of damage.
This is why gun control is an issue that so many talk about. Some people argue that bad guys will get guns anyway, so the good guys need to be able to own one too to protect themselves. But in reality, how do you tell who’s a good guy and who’s a bad guy? How do you tell that a good guy who you gave a gun today won’t turn out to be a bad guy tomorrow?
We also don’t consider the fact that there are three different ways a gun can kill you. You can get shot by it, it can fire by accident, or you can use it to put an end to it all yourself.
If you don’t own a gun, you can only die in one of these three ways. You can get shot. But if you do own a gun, you immediately open yourself up to the other two, increasing your odds of dying by a gunshot drastically.
According to statistics from the CDC, 14,542 people died from gunshot-related homicides in 2019 alone. That number might seem like a lot. However, it pales in comparison to the number of people who died of suicide by gunshot, 23,854 people.
For each time a gun is used in self-defense, it’s also used in eleven suicide attempts, seven murders and assaults, and four accidental fires. With stats like this, it almost makes you wonder why people want multiple weapons capable of doing things like this.
Since we arrived on this planet, humans have been trying to increase their lifespan. We learned the best foods to eat for strength and rejuvenation. We learned what not to eat for a healthier life. And best of all, we created medication. We learned how to use drugs and other forms of medicine to help treat, cure, and prevent our diseases.
One of the most important drugs we created are pain relievers. Our body does a very good job at healing itself. When we have a cut, a tear, or even broken bones, if given enough time, the body repairs itself with new cells and tissue. But the pain we feel before or while that healing happens can be very excruciating. With pain-relievers, we can reduce this pain drastically to the point where we can keep going on with our daily activities while the injury heals.
In 1775, Opioids became a legal pain-relieving medicine, and in the 1860s, it was used to treat troops during the Civil War. However, something unexpected happened. Many of the soldiers that were treated with opioids became addicted to them. And in that moment, what was designed to heal us would soon also be able to kill us.
Today, opioid overdose accounts for 1 in 92 deaths in America. You are more likely to die from opioid overdose than you are to die from a car crash, a gunshot, fire or smoke, or even a natural disaster. In New York alone, about 3,000 people die yearly from an opioid overdose.
Now I’m sure you’re wondering. If this stuff is so lethal, why is it still so easily accessible? Well, if you don’t already know, Big Pharma is used to collectively describe the global pharmaceutical industry. They’re responsible for producing our medicine, which is a good thing.
But, these are companies, and companies are designed to make the most money, not for the general good of the public. Opioids tend to make a lot of money. So, they convince everyone that opioids are essential, even though there are non-opioid painkillers that are much safer and not as addictive.
But there’s still more. Diseases like Diabetes and HIV are deadly killers when mismanaged. But when properly managed with the right medication, people can lead a long and relatively healthy life even with them. However, this medication is extremely expensive for most people.
Currently it is estimated that 463 million people are living with diabetes all over the world. But unfortunately, a lot of these people are going to die because they simply cannot afford insulin.
If you live in America, you don’t have to worry about HIV as much. However, if you live in Sub-Saharan Africa, you are more at risk. If you live in Eswatini, whose population is 27% HIV positive, you might want to be extra careful on whose bed you lie.
As an American, however, there is one thing that you definitely need to worry about. Obesity. If you’re an American adult watching this video right now, there’s a 1 in 3 chance that you’re obese.
Obesity is an American epidemic that isn’t talked about enough… well it is, but most tend to shrug it off.
With a predominantly sugary diet and the biggest fast-food chains in the world, it’s not surprising that over 36% of Americans are obese. And obesity it’s not just a cosmetic concern. It puts you at risk of health problems, heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and even cancer.
Obesity is generally caused by eating too much and moving too little. So you would think eating too little and moving too much should solve the issue. And while for the most part it does, if you do this, you’re going to die of nutritional deficiencies.
Although a lot more attention is given to obesity, obesity and nutritional deficiencies cause almost the same number of deaths. In 2017, 7,740 people in America died of obesity. In the same year, 7,846 people died from nutritional deficiencies.
Nutritional deficiencies are sometimes caused by eating disorders like anorexia. Although they can affect anyone, as a young woman, you are most at risk. This is in part because the world promotes being thin when, in reality, being extremely slim and being extremely obese are equally dangerous.
Accidents happen and usually there’s really nothing we can do about it. And for some of us, that’s sadly the way we’re going to die. Whether it’s a motor vehicle accident, simply falling on the ground to your death, or accidental poisoning. Most of the time, there’s really nothing we can do to prevent these accidents.
Yes we can try to be safe, but sometimes things simply don’t work the way they are supposed to and we come crashing to the ground. However, sometimes these accidents are not completely accidental.
If you drink and drive, that’s most likely how you’re going to die. Technically it will be described as an accident, but it would have been a very preventable one.
Everyone of us has a 1 in 3 chance of being involved in a drink-and-drive accident, whether as drivers or passengers. If you don’t want to end up as a statistic, always make sure that you have a designated driver or order an uber when you go out for a night of drinking.
While dying in a drinking and driving accident is easily preventable, the thing that’s most likely to kill you isn’t. Cancer.
Just as there’s a 1 in 3 chance that you’ll be involved in a drunk-driving accident, there’s also a 1 in 3 chance that you will be diagnosed with cancer in your lifetime. This isn’t very surprising considering the fact there are just so many different types of cancers and none of them are completely preventable.
It’s true that things like a healthy diet and exercise can reduce your chances, but it doesn’t completely eliminate them. And for the most part, this is true for death in general. We can try our best to protect ourselves and be safe, but when it comes knocking, sometimes all we can do is open the door and be ready to be taken.
Life isn’t fair. If it was, we would all be born with the same genes, predisposed to the same diseases and health risk factors. But we’re not. Diseases can be hereditary, and straight from our mother’s wombs, we’re simply born to die.
HIV, sickle cell anemia, high blood pressure. Sometimes we simply inherit these diseases that make us more likely to die than the next person the moment we’re born. High Blood Pressure is one of the deadliest inherited diseases because it exposes us to the biggest killer in the world, heart disease.
One in every 4 deaths is caused by heart disease. If you smoke or have high cholesterol, this is most likely how you’re going to die. Heart disease for the most part is preventable. But with things like poverty not giving people the opportunity to have the most nutritious meals they can, it’s really difficult.
When you think about it, it actually makes sense. The heart is the center of our lives, so we’re most likely going to die when it’s not functioning properly. Which is why exercise and a healthy diet is always encouraged. For all your heart does for you, it deserves to be treated right.
If you’re saddened about how likely and unpreventable your death is, don’t be. Things have actually been getting much better. Between 2000 and 2019, the global life expectancy increased by more than 6 years, and it’s still going up.
Modern day medicine is getting better, mortality rate is going down, and we’re living much better than we used to.
No matter how old you are watching this video right now, in a way, you’ve lived a full life.
If you lived in the Victorian era, which is just less than 200 years ago, you would’ve had a 1 in 3 chance of dying before you even turned 5.
So live, enjoy life to its fullest. Life is so fleeting so take time to pause and reflect. Be thankful for what you have and hopeful for what is to come.
Ashes to ashes. Dust to dust. From sand we came. To sand we’ll return. No matter what we do, no matter how hard we try, one day we live and the next... we die.
- EE, MM