“…in this world, nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes,” quoted Benjamin Franklin in a letter to Jean-Baptiste Leroy in 1789. The great dispatcher will come for us all in time, but this doesn’t mean you can’t leave in unusual style.
Published by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the map shown below illustrates “the most distinctive causes of death” in each of the 50 states. Using data acquired between 2000 and 2010, the paper describes the cause of death in each state that most stands out when compared with how people in the US usually die.
Image Credit: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
But if you’re a North Dakotan who is now alarmed by the significant amount of influenza deaths– relax, there is no need to panic. The map is meant to be a “colorful and provocative way of starting some conversations and highlighting some unusual things that are going on,” said study co-author Francis Boscoe to Live Science. “If something is almost nonexistent everywhere in the country, but there's a handful of them in one state, then that could show up."
The results, the authors write, are meant to give a “more nuanced view of mortality variation.” So while the people of New Mexico aren’t all going out with all guns blazing and the mysterious “legal intervention” isn’t knocking off all Arizonians, the map highlights each state's more unusual deaths when compared with others.
While outlying causes of death can often be extracted from the data, such as cases of "acute and rapidly progressive nephritic and nephrotic syndrome" in Montana, many are lumped into an "Other" category, such as "Other disorders of kidney" in Illinois, which can skew the results of such studies. This study may influence states to adopt more specificity and further degrees of classification for causes of death.