There is only one certainty in life (okay, two if you count taxes) and that is death. If you live, you are bound to die sooner or later. It’s something we are all going to have to face eventually and for most of us, it’s a pretty scary thought. Death is, sadly, inevitable.
Not knowing when, where, or how we are going to die is what drives the fear of death. Nearly everyone worries about dying at some point, but this fear can be used in a positive way if you cultivate the right mindset. Knowing that you won’t live forever can spur you on to go out and achieve your goals and live your dreams.
The most common causes of death are heart attacks, strokes, and cancer. About 1 in 3 people will die either from a heart attack or stroke and roughly 1 in every five people will die from cancer. But by living a healthy lifestyle we can somewhat reduce our chances of dying from these conditions.
But what about those other nagging fears that we have – like getting eaten alive by a shark or dying while under anesthetic? Just how likely are they statistically? We’re about to find out…
15 Killed By A Falling Asteroid – 1 In 500,000
So there you are, just walking along the street, minding your own business when you look and see a large object falling through the sky. You’re so shocked that you can’t even move. It’s hurtling towards you and there is nothing that you can do. The next thing you know you wake up sweating profusely in your bed. It was just a nightmare.
The good news is that getting killed by a falling asteroid will remain nothing more than a scary dream for most of us. In the past, we estimated that the chance of being killed this way was about 20,000/1 but thanks to scientific progress our chances are actually about 500,000/1. The reason for the improved odds is that most large asteroids on near-Earth collision courses have been identified and calculated to be non-threatening.
14 Roller Coaster Crash – 1 In 300 Million
There’s nothing in the world quite like the thrill of riding a roller coaster. But if movies like Final Destination have taught us anything it’s that roller coasters can turn deadly. But realistically just how likely is it that you’ll die in an amusement park accident?
A report published by the Consumer Product Safety Commission stated that in 2011 only 1,177 people were injured or killed out of the 1.7 billion rides taken that year. So that means that dying in a roller coaster accident is even more unlikely than being killed in a shark attack. About 9 people a year die from shark attacks while roller coasters claim an average of 2 lives per a year. Statistically, the odds are about 300,000,000/1 that the next ride you take will be your last.
13 Plane Crash – 1 In 11 Million
You know how people always say you’re more likely to be killed in a car accident than a plane crash? They are right. While many of us enjoy flying there is always that lingering anxiety of the plane going down and taking us with. Every year about 1,300 people are killed in plane crashes while about 1.3 million people die in car accidents. So yes, flying is safer than driving.
According to one statistical expert in the field of aviation safety, you have the chance of being involved in a fatal airplane accident about once every 19,000 years. This puts the odds of dying from a plane crash at about 11,000,000/1 – quite low. So stay off the streets if possible and book that plane ride – the chance of arriving at your destination is pretty high.
12 Falling From A Height - 1 In 516,950
About 7% of people worldwide suffer from Acrophobia – the fear of heights. In most cases, it’s not the height itself that they are afraid of but rather the risk of falling. And given that falling is classed as the second leading cause of accidental death this doesn’t seem unreasonable. But dying from a fall is something that is much more likely to happen to a person over the age of 65 and usually, they are not falling off a building but in their homes or out of bed. Other adults who are likely to die from falling are those who have jobs that take them to high places, like builders or painters. Falls are the leading cause of death for those people working in construction.
But still only about 80 people a year die from falling from a height so unless you are building a skyscraper (or taking silly selfies while dangling off a building) you probably won’t die this way.
11 Choking On Food - 1 In 370,035
Choking on food can be absolutely terrifying, if you’ve ever choked before (and most of us have) you’ll agree with me on this one. But if you are reading this it means you haven’t fallen victim to your food – just yet.
Once again children and the elderly are at the highest risk for death by accidental choking, but adults increase their chances when they take part in high-risk activities like drinking excessively or using recreational drugs. That said the chances of choking to death average out to about 1 in 370,035 a year.
Do yourself a favor and learn how to perform the Heimlich Maneuver just in case – there is even a method for helping yourself if you choke while alone which may just save your life one day.
10 Lightning Strike - 1 In 126,158
Statistically, you are twice as likely to be killed by choking on food than getting struck by lightning. Lightning strikes claim about 24,000 lives a year, so your chance of being struck and killed by lightning is about 1 in 126,158. Obviously, this is also dependent on where you live because some areas are more prone to lightning than others.
But freak accidents do happen. One of the most bizarre cases involving lightning took place in 1998 in the Republic of Congo when 11 members of a soccer team were struck by a sudden bolt of lightning which killed them all instantly. The strangest part of the story is that all the members of the opposing team walked away from the field unharmed. But the chance of something like this happening is astronomical.
9 Shark Attack – 1 In 264 Million
Sharks get a bad rap. Movies like Jaws have demonized these marine animals making them out to be dangerous man-killers. Yes, there are a few species of shark that could easily eat a man, but unprovoked attacks are actually quite rare, even for people who visit the beach regularly.
According to the International Shark File, there have been 2,899 confirmed unprovoked shark attacks in the last 58 years. That equates to about 50 attacks a year. Of those attacks, 548 were fatal – about 9 per a year. Africa has recorded the highest number of fatalities during this time period with 94 deaths, followed by Australia with 78.
Moral of the story? Your chance of being killed by a shark is minuscule, about 264 million to 1.
8 Bee Attack- 1 In 100,000
This one may surprise you a little bit – you are more likely to be killed by a bee sting than a dog attack. The chance of dying from being mauled by man’s best friend is about 1 in 147,717 while death by bee sits at 1 in 100,000. In the USA roughly 54 people die from bee stings every year, while about 20,000 people die from the flu – so the odds are slim. Most bees will only swarm and attack when threatened so if you don’t go around upsetting bees you’ll remain safe.
Fatalities from bee stings are rare because unless you have a bee sting allergy which sends you into anaphylaxis the human body can tolerate up to 10 stings per a pound of body weight. That means that an adult could survive even after being stung 1000 times.
7 Tsunami - 1 In 500,000
Now that we’ve assessed how unlikely you are to die from a shark attack let’s look at another ocean-related fear – dying from a tsunami. Just how likely are you to get swept away by a freak tidal wave?
Again this would depend on your location. When tsunamis do occur, they cause major damage and usually claim thousands of lives, that’s the bad news. Between 1980 and 2008 there were 18 tsunami events that claimed roughly 230,000 lives and caused $10,046,000,000 worth of damage. So on average, about 7900 people die each year from these types of events.
But the good news is that your chances of getting killed by a tsunami are about the same as dying from an asteroid strike – about 1 in 500,000. You should keep your eyes and ears open when you visit the beach though, just in case.
6 Terrorist Attack - 1 In 9.3 Million
The bad news about terrorist attacks is that they are on the rise so it’s pretty natural to worry about dying in such an event, especially when they are headline news. Worldwide about 23,194 people a year are being killed in terrorist attacks and the scariest part is that these attacks can basically take place anywhere in the world, at any time. It’s enough to make anyone feel paranoid, so how worried should you actually be?
Your chance of dying in a terrorist attack is about 1 in 9.3 million. If you live in the United States of America the chance that you will be killed by a refugee terrorist in the US is one in 3.64 billion, which makes Trump's war on immigration seem quite illogical. In this case, an asteroid is more likely to kill you than a terrorist refugee.
5 The Plague – 1 In 30 Million
In the 14th century contracting the plague was almost inevitable and if you were infected with the Black Death it was basically tickets for you. The people didn’t understand what the illness was much less how to treat it. During this century the plague killed about 50 million people, roughly 60% of the population of Europe at the time. It must have been terrifying.
Although the disease still exists today the risk of catching the plague is very low – about 1 in 3 million and the chances that you will die if you get treatment is about 1 in 30 million. Only about 1 or 2 cases of plague are reported in the United States every year and they are very rarely fatal because treatment is readily available.
4 Elevator Crash 1 In 10.4 Million
Have you ever been too afraid to get inside an elevator? Maybe it was one of those old style lifts that just seemed too unstable or perhaps it was one of the modern types with those freaky glass bottoms, but either way, you decided to just take the stairs instead. At moments like that, a ten-floor climb seems way safer than climbing into a metal box.
Lifts are frightening because not only are you not in control, but you’re also in a tight space, and that is too much for some people to bear. But the reality is that you are far more likely to die falling on the staircase than you are to die in an elevator crash. The brake systems are now so advanced that the chance of dying this way are about 1 in 10,440,000.
3 Sky Diving Accident – 1 In 100,000
What frightens you more? The thought of jumping out of a plane and skydiving or driving your car to the mall? Those of us who aren’t daredevils will probably say that driving the car seems less risky but we couldn’t be more wrong.
According to the US Department of Transportation, there are about 10 million car accidents a year and about 40,000 of them result in fatalities. In comparison, the United States Parachuting Association reports that there are about 3 million jumps every year and only about 20 deaths. So you have a 0.0007% chance of dying from a skydive, compared to a 0.0167% chance of dying in a car accident which means you are 24 times more likely to die in a car accident than a skydiving mishap. If you make one jump a year the odds of dying are about 1 in 100,000.
2 Dying Under Anesthesia – 1 In 100,000
Going into hospital for an operation can be stressful and the greatest fear for most people is dying while under anesthesia. But over the past 25 years, there have been major advances in medicine and these days anesthesiologists carefully assess patients beforehand to identify any risks. In the past, there were about 2 deaths for every 10,000 anesthetics administered, but today that number is roughly 1 in 100,000, about the same as being killed by bees or dying in a skydiving accident.
Children have a slightly higher risk, about 1 in 40,000 as do people with conditions like heart disease, high blood pressure, or obesity. The truth is that you are far more likely to wake up during the operation than not wake up at all. Each year about 1 person in 1000 experience awareness during surgery. That didn’t make you feel better, did it?
1 Fireworks – 1 In 340,733
In the USA alone about 9,300 people are injured by fireworks every year and approximately four people die from their injuries. That means that if you participate in firework activities you have about a 1 in 430,933 chance of dying while doing so. But they do cause about 20,000 fires every year and about 400 people are blinded by fireworks annually as well.
That means the chance of dying this way is pretty low but that doesn’t mean that you should be careless. Most deaths result from uninformed people handling fireworks so make sure you know what you are doing and don’t take unnecessary risks. It should go without saying that drinking and being in charge of the fireworks display is a dangerous (and deadly) combination!