Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

Opinion

November 10, 2013

Vasicek: How we die in the U.S.

Because we in the West have been greatly influenced by Judo-Christian ethics, most of us place a high premium upon human life. If man is indeed in God’s image, then man is more than a merely advanced animal and thus possesses a special dignity. Although other ethical systems may champion a high view of human life, it is this particular ethic (ingrained in Western culture), combining with other supporting factors, that has fueled the momentum for amazing advances in health and longevity.

As I was perusing the Kokomo Tribune, I was saddened to read about the accidental death of a man in his 20s (and I express my sympathies to his family). The same edition offered this headline, “State’s infant mortality rates worsening.” Although death and taxes are inevitable, premature death is particularly painful.

Today’s column is about leading causes of death in the U.S. It may surprise you. In his book, “Thinking Fast and Slow,” Nobel Prize winner Daniel Kahneman writes about a study in perception. This research was conducted by a team headed by Paul Slovic. The study demonstrated how media-driven our perceptions about “causes of death” are. Someone dying of heart failure at age 60, for example, rarely makes the headlines.

“Tornadoes were seen as more frequent killers than asthma, although the latter causes 20 times more deaths. Death by lightning was judged less likely than death by botulism even though it is 52 times more frequent. Death by disease is 18 times as likely as death by accidental death, but the two were judged to be equally likely. Death by [auto] accident was judged to be more than 300 times more likely than death by diabetes, but the true ratio is 1:4.”

According the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2010 stats), the average American lives to the ripe old age of 78.7, nearly 79. Nearly 2.5 million people died in the U.S. in 2010, and nearly 600,000 of them died from heart disease, the leading cause of death. Next on the list was cancer, with 575,000 deaths. After that, we see a big drop off. Respiratory disease took about 138,000, stroke about 129,000, accidents (of all kinds) about 121,000 (about 33,000 of those deaths were from car accidents, according to NHTSA). Alzheimer's disease took about 83,000, and diabetes about 69,000. The list continues with kidney disease taking 50,000, influenza and pneumonia 50,000, and suicide 38,000.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Opinion
  • Keep eye out for kids

    With most local schools welcoming students in a couple of weeks — and Kokomo schools beginning class Aug. 5 (yes, a week from this coming Tuesday) — it’s important for motorists to think about safe driving as children travel to and from school.Law en

    July 23, 2014

  • MAUREEN HAYDEN: Expiring term heightens urgency of legislator's mission State Rep. Rebecca Kubacki had plans for her return to the General Assembly next January.The two-term Republican from Kosciusko County wanted to exert “full force” to roll back a law that prevents the children of undocumented immigrants from paying i

    July 23, 2014

  • LETTERS: Let's hope 7th Circuit sides with couples Let’s hope 7th Circuit sides with couplesIf you blinked over the past month, you probably missed some news about marriage equality in Indiana.First, a federal court ruled that the state’s ban on marriage for same-sex couples was unconstitutional, whi

    July 23, 2014

  • CECIL BOHANON: Spend down surplus? Been there, done that Back in 1998, the state of Indiana had more than $1.3 billion in surplus funds in its general account. This was about 57 days of state spending. The state had total surplus funds of more than $2 billion that was over 24 percent of its annual operatin

    July 23, 2014

  • House of Burgess: Bush? Clinton? Next, please Here comes a sentence I don’t usually find myself typing: I agree with Barbara Bush on something.Jan. 20, C-SPAN aired her installment in the series “First Ladies: Influence and Image,” which was filmed at Bush’s Houston home.“Do you think there is r

    July 23, 2014

  • State aims at outbreaks More than 200 Western School Corp. students were vaccinated for chickenpox after an outbreak in March 2012.The virus was confirmed to have infected five fifth-graders, the Howard County Health Department reported. It acted quickly to prevent the infe

    July 22, 2014

  • MAUREEN HAYDEN: Expiring term heightens urgency of legislator's mission State Rep. Rebecca Kubacki had plans for her return to the General Assembly next January.The two-term Republican from Kosciusko County wanted to exert “full force” to roll back a law that prevents the children of undocumented immigrants from paying i

    July 22, 2014

  • LETTERS: Trust chemical, seed firms and the FDA? Trust chemical, seed firms and the FDA?Let’s see ... Mr. Don Villwock, Indiana Farm Bureau president, wants the FDA to define what genetically engineered foods are, and then he wants it to be optional or voluntary for food companies to tell consumers

    July 22, 2014

  • TOM LoBIANCO: Indiana Democrats deal with divide on education On the face of it, the battles between Democratic Schools Superintendent Glenda Ritz and supporters and staff of Republican Gov. Mike Pence have been a unifying force for Indiana Democrats. But the scrapping has exposed a deep rift within the party o

    July 22, 2014

  • BRIAN HOWEY: Is Evan Bayh contemplating another gubernatorial run? This could be the saga of “LeBron Bayh.”Like a thunderhead brewing in the distance, you could see this one coming. This was the progression: former state Democratic Chairman Dan Parker announces he will not become a candidate for mayor of Indianapoli

    July 21, 2014

Featured Ads
Only on our website
AP Video
Disabled Veterans Memorial Nearing Completion Last Mass Lynching in U.S. Remains Unsolved Home-sharing Programs Help Seniors Ex-NYC Mayor: US Should Allow Flights to Israel Clinton: "AIDS-Free Generation Within Our Reach" Judge Ponders Overturning Colo. Gay Marriage Ban Airlines Halt Travel to Israel Amid Violence NYPD Chief Calls for 'use of Force' Retraining VA Nominee McDonald Goes Before Congress Bush: Don't Worry, Sugarland Isn't Breaking Up US Official: Most Migrant Children to Be Removed Police Probing Brooklyn Bridge Flag Switch CDC Head Concerned About a Post-antibiotic Era Raw: First Lady Says `Drink Up' More Water Courts Conflicted Over Healthcare Law Holder Urges Bipartisanship on Immigration Raw: Truck, Train Crash Leads to Fireball US Airlines Cancel Israel Flights Obama Signs Workforce Training Law Crash Victims' Remains Reach Ukraine-held City
Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.
Obituaries
Poll