Sunday, August 31, 2008

Accident, homicide, suicide

I think everyone should be aware of the leading causes of mortality for people in their age group. It helps to put risks in perspective and helps you see the reality behind various media scares. The CDC compiles this data so it is readily available. Take a look at the data from your age group (I'm presuming most of you are in the 15-24 age group). What is very conspicuous to me is that none of the leading causes of death are disease related - infectious or otherwise. Road traffic carnage dwarfs everything else, and homicide (and 'legal intervention') and suicide round out the top three. But notice that the overall death rate is low (90 per 100,000).

As you move into the next age group (25-44) notice that the overall mortality rate almost doubles (178 per 100,000) but that's still quite low. The carnage on the roads continues but AIDS, Cancer and heart diseases are moving up.

As we move into the 45-64 age group the death rate starts to rise sharply, up to 700 per 100,000. Mainly due to rising rates of heart disease and cancer. If you look at the final category of 65+ you'll see Pneumonia and Influenza crack the top 5.

I was thinking about this today because of the sad news that a 66 year old Santa Barbara woman, out running, was hit by a drunken driver early yesterday morning. I assume this will go down in the statistics as a motor vehicle 'accident'.

So please drive, walk and bike safe this labor day. And every other day for that matter. Even in our quiet paradise town by the sea there are drunks on the road at 7.30 in the morning.

This has been your labor day public service announcement.

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