How We Die

This won’t be too surprising to long-term readers, but I have a morbid fascination with death (it’s a category in the menu for a reason). Like most human machinations, it’s hard to pin down why or how this developed, although it does sort of come with my line of work: studying international relations and humanitarian issues exposes you to a lot of death and human suffering, and that in turn gets you thinking about the value and fragility of life.

Also, once upon a time, I used to have an interest in being a psychiatrist, and to that end I worked with a lot of people through the internet to help them with various mental illnesses (namely suicidal tendencies and clinical depression, the latter of which I relate to). I still engage in this kind of amateur “citizen therapy” occasionally, though I don’t have as much time any energy to devote to it as I used to.

Anyway, a few scientists did some research into the different ways we die and what exactly happens to us when it happens. Obviously, it’s difficult to get a real understanding of these things given the end result, but accounts from survivors provide the closest ideas we could imagine. If you’re as macabre as me, you can read the summary of their conclusions here. I would share the original study, but the publisher, New Scientist, requires you to subscribe.

In any case, I’m fortunate to live in a part of the world where death is so rare, even discussing it is taboo. Most of my fellow humans who have ever lived haven’t been so lucky.