What Are Your Odds of Dying From Specific Causes in the United States?

Your odds of dying from an accidental opioid overdose continue to be greater than dying in a motor-vehicle crash

Fear is natural and usually healthy. It can help us respond to danger more quickly or avoid a dangerous situation altogether. It can also cause us to worry about the wrong things, especially when it comes to estimating our level of risk. The COVID-19 pandemic is a worthy example of forced excessive worrying upon the masses to control a large percentage of populations.

If we overestimate our risk in one area, it can lead to anxiety and interfere with carrying out our normal daily routine. Ironically, it also leads us to underestimate real risks that can injure or kill us.

It can be difficult to accurately assess the biggest risks we face. Plane crashes, being struck by lightning, or being attacked by a dog are common fears, but what about falls, the danger inside a bottle of pills, or your drive to work?

Knowing the odds is the first step in beating them.

Lifetime odds of death for selected causes, United States, 2020
Cause of DeathOdds of Dying
Heart disease1 in 6
Cancer1 in 7
COVID-191 in 1,820
All preventable causes of death1 in 21
Chronic lower respiratory disease1 in 28
Opioid overdose1 in 66
Suicide1 in 93
Motor-vehicle crash1 in 101
Fall1 in 102
Gun assault1 in 221
Pedestrian incident1 in 541
Motorcyclist1 in 799
Drowning1 in 1,024
Fire or smoke1 in 1,450
Choking on food1 in 2,745
Bicyclist1 in 3,396
Sunstroke1 in 6,368
Accidental gun discharge1 in 7,998
Electrocution, radiation, extreme temperatures, and pressure1 in 14,705
Sharp objects1 in 26,744
Cataclysmic storm1 in 35,074
Hot surfaces and substances1 in 50,341
Hornet, wasp, and bee stings1 in 57,825
Dog attack1 in 69,016
LightningToo few deaths in 2021 to calculate odds
Railway passengerToo few deaths in 2021to calculate odds
Passenger on an airplaneToo few deaths in 2021to calculate odds

Source: National Safety Council estimates based on data from National Center for Health Statistics


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  1. Thank you. Sometimes even I, can grow a fear until it terrorizes me backwards. Yet, I was reminded not long ago while eating a piece of candy with caramel and pecans. A pecan stuck on a patch of caramel and slid down my throat and refused to continue its trek downwards. I chocked and hacked until my tongue stretched its full capacity. It was when the caramel let go of the back of my throat I felt the slide of a successful treat of chocolate. It is this easy to die by chocolate. Merry Christmas.

    Liked by 2 people

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