30 facts about death you may (or may not) want to know

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By now, you’ve probably already heard the famous Benjamin Franklin quote: “In this world, nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.”

While paying your taxes may make you wish for the sweet relief of death, the good news is death isn’t all that complicated, after all. And even if shuffling off your mortal coil doesn’t sound like the lightest of topics, humans really have perfected the art of dying.

In 2012, BBC reported that about 100 billion people have died in all of the known history of people. To put that into perspective, there’s only about 7.9 billion people

alive right now.

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With all those billions of deaths, people and society have developed a plethora of rituals and rites surrounding death. Odd and bizarre deaths have made the news, as have tragic ones. And a slew of weird and creepy facts about dying have made their rounds on the internet.

But you don’t have to be on your deathbed to find this list of strange and peculiar facts about death and dying (excuse the pun) to die for.

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1. Burials have been going on for over 350,000 years

Smithsonian found that the oldest example of someone being buried after death dates back about 350,000 years ago.

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2. About 178,000 will die on your birthday

Georgetown University found that about 178,000 people die every day. That’s about 120 deaths every minute.

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3. Poorly written doctor’s notes can be deadly

Time reported that about 7,000 people die annually from mistakes made because of a doctor’s poor handwriting on prescriptions.

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4. You may want to be more afraid of coconuts than sharks

George Burgess, a shark expert from the University of Florida’s International Shark Attack File, claims that 150 people die each year from falling coconuts, which is 15-times the amount of shark-related fatalities. However, no one has been able to replicate his findings.

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5. Drunk drivers kill at least one person every hour

Some researchers have found that at least one person in the U.S. is killed by a drunk driver every hour.

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6. There are dead body monuments on Mount Everest

CBC reported that there are about 200 dead bodies at the top of Mount Everest. It’s incredibly expensive and dangerous to move the bodies, so some climbers instead made monuments for the bodies that remain.

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7. More people kill sharks than sharks kill people

There are only about 12 shark-related human deaths each year, Huffpost reported. However, people kill about 11,417 sharks each hour.

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8. Laughter can be deadly

Greek philosopher Chrysippus’s death is often attributed to him laughing at his own joke. While drinking with pals, he saw a donkey eating figs and reportedly yelled, “Now give the donkey a pure wine to wash down the figs!” He died while laughing uncontrollably. The alternative to this story is that the undiluted wine is what actually did him in.

Pringles canned chips
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9. The creator of Pringles had his ashes stored in a Pringles can

When Pringles founder Fred Baur died in 2008, he requested his ashes be buried in a Pringles can. His family honored the wish, according to The Guardian.

Master bathroom interior in luxury home with large shower with elegant tile and soaking bathtub. Includes large window with view of trees.
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10. You’re more likely to die in a bathtub than by terrorism

Terrorism takes fewer lives than slipping in a bathtub, drowning in a bathtub or being struck by lightening, according to The Atlantic.

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11. Your taxi cab to the airport is more deadly than the flight itself

Some researchers have found that between 1983 and 2000, the U.S. saw only 568 airplane crashes, with a combined 90% survival rate. In comparison, over 38,000 people die in car accidents each year in the U.S.

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12. You’ll die with fewer bones than you were born with

Humans are born with nearly 300 bones, but by the time most of us are adults, we’ll only have 206.

Houses of Parliament
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13. It’s a crime to die in The Houses of Parliament

Under an old London law that’s still on the books, it’s illegal to die in The Houses of Parliament.

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14. Greeks thought redheads were vampires

According to some Greek mythology, redheads would become vampires once they die.

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15. Many people sentenced to death are innocent

Some studies claim that one in 25 people sentenced to death in the U.S. are actually innocent.

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16. 1 in 8 deaths are linked to air pollution

The World Health Organization has found that about one in every eight deaths around the world can be linked to air pollution exposure.

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17. Vending machines have killed at least 37 people

The Consumer Product Safety Commission found that at least 37 people have been killed by vending machines since 1978. Another 113 are believed to have been injured by them.

War Concept. Military silhouettes fighting scene on war fog sky background, World War Soldiers Silhouette Below Cloudy Skyline At sunset.
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18. We don’t really know how many people have died in wars

Anywhere from 150 million to one billion people have died in war since the beginning of human history, according to The New York Times.

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19. Death isn’t always bad in all cultures

The Satiyaa gypsies believe that death, not birth, is the happiest moment in one’s life. As such, they grieve at births and celebrate at funerals.

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20. Malaria has killed about half of humanity

Some researchers believe that malaria is responsible for killing nearly half of all humans since the beginning of human history.

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21. Your body eats itself

Three days after you die, the same enzymes that break down your food start to break down your entire body.

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22. There’s a word in Japanese for dying alone

Kodokushi,” which means “lonely death,” is a well-documented phenomenon in Japan where one dies alone and your body isn’t discovered for quite some time.

Harry Houdini
Thurston, John H. (John Henry) / Wiki Commons

23. Harry Houdini died on Halloween

Somewhat fittingly, the great escape artist escaped this world on Halloween in 1926.

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24. You can become a diamond when you die

LifeGem can take the ashes of a loved one and turn it into a diamond you’ll have forever. Too flashy? You can have your ashes help a tree grow.

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25. Cell phones and driving are a deadly combination

According to some studies, 5.7% of all car-related deaths are caused by cell phone use while driving. In 2018, the U.S. saw 36,750 car-related deaths.

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26. Don’t tick off a mother hippo

Hippos kill around 2,900 each year in Africa. Most of these deaths happened when a human got in between a mother and her calf.

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27. Maybe take the elevator

Around 12,000 Americans die each year falling down the stairs, according to some studies.

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28. Watch for bicyclers…

In the U.S. alone, 1,089 bicyclers died in 2019, according to this study. Of that number, 712 involved a car.

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29. … And motorcyclists

In 2019, around 5,014 motorcyclists died in an auto accident in the U.S.

 

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Kaitlyn Farley

Kaitlyn is MediaFeed’s senior editor. She is a graduate of Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism, specializing in social justice and investigative reporting. She has worked at various radio stations and newsrooms, covering higher-education, local politics, natural disasters and investigative and watchdog stories related to Title IX and transparency issues.