Causes of Death, 2001

I’m re-posting this (originally compiled this list in ’04 or so). Seems ever-useful. These are the number of deaths in 2001 by cause and IIRC there were some other causes in the 10-14 range that got omitted because they started getting redundant and/or uninteresting (there are many types of cancer).

  1. Lung cancer: 157,400
  2. Car accidents: 42,443
  3. Breast cancer: 40,600
  4. Prostate cancer: 31,500
  5. Prescription drug reactions: 31,000
  6. Suicide: 30,602
  7. Murder: 20,308
  8. Hypertension: 19,250
  9. Illicit drug use: 17,000
  10. AIDS/HIV: 14,175
  11. Poisoning: 14,078
  12. Suffocation: 5,555
  13. Gallbladder cancer: 3,300
  14. Drowning: 3,281
  15. Terrorist attacks: 2,986

It’s tricky identifying *one* cause of death (e.g., was the cause of death smoking or lung cancer?), but I don’t think that negates the point here. Even at its height, namely 2001, terrorist-related deaths in the US were not particularly significant compared to other causes of death. When you further amortize those deaths across the decades with few if any terrorist deaths, the number becomes even less significant.

I don’t think there are a lot of good ways to die, but death is clearly inevitable. The more society does to curb death, the more it seems to restrict the quality of life. Laws, agencies, and procedures put into place since September 11, 2001 have done this and done so in the name of preventing a cause of death that may be dramatic, but is one that has never been significant. These costs and infringements on personal liberty are a sop to irrationality.