Odds of Dying: Terrorists & Serial Killers Shouldn’t Concern You

Death is perhaps the most certain part of everyone’s life. It’s a given constant, while the only variable is the time of its occurrence. Thanks to mass media and the internet, news about death and dying seems to travel quickly these days, spreading hysteria and fear.

This is the reason why everyone thinks they are a possible victim of a terrorist attack, serial killer or stalker, and who can blame them? After reading a newspaper or scrolling through Facebook, one gets the impression that people just keep dying because of freak accidents, airplane crashes, and stampedes.

Despite that, there is some interesting statistical data that shows how unlikely you are to die from any of these reasons. For example, the most common cause of death in the USA is heart disease. According to the CDC, exactly 2,626,418 people died in the USA in 2014, out of which 614,348 died from a heart disease and 519,699 from cancer.

Dying from Unusual Accidents

Let’s take a look at this colorful infographic together, which literally shows you the odds of dying due to a specific reason. The odds are calculated as statistical averages based on the US population and are completely independent of an individual’s surroundings or workplace.

The large blue field represents the odds of dying from all of the mentioned causes – 1 in 1. Inside, there is a blue circle which shows that your odds of dying of cancer or heart disease are the highest – 1 in 7. The next circle is darker blue, and it stands for chronic respiratory disease – 1 in 28.

If you continue to follow the circles, you will be able to compare the different causes and eventually you will come to multiple staggering conclusions, such as the fact that you are more likely to be unintentionally poisoned or drowned, rather than a victim of a plane crash.

The conclusion from this chart seems to be that deaths which get the most media attention are not necessarily the most common ones. In the face of these statistics, irrational fears such as flying in an airplane seem a little ridiculous.

Dying from Terrorist Attacks

With terrorist attacks increasing in frequency and impact, a lot of people fear they might find themselves in the middle of one. For this reason, some tend to avoid malls, concerts, public gatherings and traveling abroad.

While it is true that terrorists tend to target crowded areas, the chances of you being at the wrong place at the wrong time are too slim for you to be putting your life on ‘standby’.

Between the years 1975 and 2015, there have been 3,024 terrorism deaths in the USA, out of which 2,983 were due to the 9/11 attack. A risk analysis conducted by Alex Nowrasteh at the Cato Institute compares this number to the entire US population and concludes that during this period of time, the average amount of terrorist deaths per year in the USA is 74. The US population counts 323.1 million people.

Dying from Refugees

This same analysis takes a close look at the relationship between immigrants and terrorism. With the ever-growing xenophobia in the USA, a lot of money is spent on trying to ‘keep the terrorists outside’. This manic type of propaganda causes some people to shudder at the sight of a foreigner; out of fear that they are secretly planning to bomb the entire town.

According to this data, the chances of you being killed by an asylum seeker are 1 in 2.7 billion and by a refugee 1 in 3.6 billion. Even smaller are the chances of you dying in an attack by an illegal immigrant – 1 in 10.9 billion. Compared the general chance of dying in a homicide on US soil (1 in 14,000) all of those scenarios are quite unlikely.

Statistics can be a bizarre take on death. However, it does help put things into a clearer perspective. Next time you pass on seeing your favorite band live, remember that you are 17 times more likely to die from a shark attack than at the hands of an illegal immigrant terrorist. But don’t hold back from swimming either, shark attacks are one of the rarest forms of death! You are about 2000 times more likely to die choking on your food.

About Martina Blazheska

Martina is a mechanical engineering student from Skopje, Macedonia. When she’s not drowning in homework, she likes to write articles. Her favorite things to write about are feminism, social justice, science, ecology and travel. Martina is fascinated with the influence of social media and hopes that her words can make a difference, no matter how big or small.

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