Ways to die in the United States

December 20, 2015


Jacob Schor, ND, FABNO



A number of news stories have caught my attention in recent weeks that tally up the number of Americans that die per year from different causes. 


In 2014 nearly 50,000 Americans died from drug overdoses. Of these, nearly 61% were from OxyContin overdoses.  These numbers have doubled since 2000.


The increases in drug overdose deaths were caused by increased deaths   in 14 states: Alabama, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Dakota, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Virginia. The other states had no significant increases compared with 2013. Among the five states with the highest rates of drug overdose deaths — West Virginia, New Mexico, New Hampshire, Kentucky and Ohio — two, Kentucky and West Virginia, had no significant increases from 2013.[1]  


The ongoing competition between gun violence and automobiles continue to run head to head.  In 2013 auto related events were responsible for 33,804 deaths while guns accounted for 33,636 deaths.  Predictions are that at some point this year, if trends continue, firearms will surpass automobiles as a cause of death. [2]



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Cancer is predicted to be responsible for 589,430 deaths in the US in 2015. [3]    480,000 of those deaths are attributed to smoking. [4] 


Terrorism in the US has caused 3380 deaths since 2001 according to an Oct 2 CNN tally, and that includes the 2,977 deaths from 9/11.


Globally terrorism accounted for 32,658 deaths in 2014.  This was an 80% increase compared to the 18,111 deaths in 2013.  Boko Haram and ISIL were jointly responsible for 51% of all claimed global fatalities in 2014.


78% of all deaths and 57% of all attacks occurred in just five countries: Afghanistan, Iraq, Nigeria, Pakistan and Syria. Iraq continues to be the country most impacted by terrorism with 9,929 terrorist fatalities the highest ever recorded in a single country. Nigeria experienced the largest increase in terrorist activity with 7,512 deaths in 2014, an increase of over 300% since 2013.


The majority of deaths from terrorism do not occur in the West. Excluding the September 11 attack, only 0.5% of deaths from terrorism have occurred in the West since 2000. Including September 11, the percentage reaches 2.6%.


The global economic cost of terrorism reached an all-time peak at US $52.9 billion [5]  making this the costliest year since 2001.



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Since 2000 there have been over 61,000 terrorist attacks, killing more than 140,000 people.  Thirteen times as many people are killed globally by homicides than die in terrorist attacks. [6] 



Coming back to the drug overdose statistics for a moment, this is one area in which we may be able to have an impact.  Starting in 1996 organizations began providing naloxone kits to lay people in order to try and lower the number of drug overdoses.  Nalolone counteracts opioid drug overdoses.  Approximately 152,000 lay people have received naloxone emergency kits and reports have been collected documenting 26,463 overdose reversals using these kits.  Almost 82% of the kits were given to drug users, while 12% went to family and friends of drug users. [7]  





[1] Gina Kolata. NY Times. December 18, 2015

[2] http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data_access/Vitalstatsonline.htm

[3] http://www.cancer.org/research/cancerfactsstatistics/cancerfactsfigures2015/

[4] http://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/campaign/tips/resources/data/cigarette-smoking-in-united-states.html?gclid=CKy_y_bP68kCFQiKaQodb1EIwQ

[5] http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2015-11-17/the-global-economic-cost-of-terrorism-is-now-at-its-highest-since-9-11

[6] http://www.visionofhumanity.org/#/page/our-gti-findings

[7] http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm6423a2.htm Opioid Overdose Prevention Programs Providing Naloxone to Laypersons — United States, 2014. June 19, 2015 / 64(23);631-635