Maybe you saw this infographic yesterday. I got it from a Business Insider (Australia) article that showed up in my newsfeed: “The things most likely to kill you in one infographic.” With all of our fear and anxiety about terrorism and plane crashes, it turns out that what’s way more likely to kill us is the health-related stuff.
I drive my car without giving it much thought, but I obsess about the possibility of being killed or seriously injured riding my bike on the road. Maybe in this infographic they both count as “transport related accidents,” but in terms of sheer numbers, the death toll in car accidents is enormous.
For me, I think a relevant factor in the fear is that in the event of an accident, cyclists are more vulnerable to serious injury than people in cars. I had the same worry on my motorcycle, namely, that the consequences of an accident were just likely to be that much worse. But I don’t even know if that’s right. (as an aside, the reason most of us are unlikely to die in a war is that most of us are unlikely to be in a war zone. I’m sure that statistic goes up enormously if we limit the demographic to people living in war zones).
What the info-graphic shows is that there are lots of things to worry about before “transport-related accidents.” Suicide is more probable than that. But there are a whole slew of health things, and this infographic is meant to give us perspective.
The good thing about health stuff is that lots of it is preventable. There is documented evidence to support the claim that adopting a healthy lifestyle, with some sort of movement, a balanced approach to eating, adequate sleep, and attention to mental health, can increase a person’s expected lifespan.
And while we can’t plan not to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, we can make decisions about how to live day to day in way that makes some of the things at the top end of “things most likely to kill you” less likely.
Back in the day, people used to die of something called “old age.” If you look at this infographic, “old age” isn’t even a thing on it. This makes sense because it’s not an ailment in itself — of course it’s not. But it would be helpful to have some age stats on some of these health-related causes of death. My guess is that many of them become more likely as we get older.
And that too bodes well for people who are in a position to make healthy choices.
Is this kind of thing enough to make me relax about riding my bike? Well, I’m not so sure. I mean, I get that the probability of dying of something not health-related is relatively low. But everyone dies of something. And one thing we do not have the gift (or curse) of is knowing what, in our own case, that something will be.
Meanwhile, I agree that there’s no point in being overly preoccupied with our inevitable death. The how and when of it is not within our control. But if, as this infographic suggests, chances are good that most of us will die from “natural causes,” that makes at least a good statistical case for keeping things in perspective.
What about you? Does this infographic give you helpful perspective?