Thursday, March 8, 2012

Death by numbers

Posted By on Thu, Mar 8, 2012 at 4:38 PM

Celebrities are better than us, so when they die we mourn the loss of these people we've never met. In this mourning period, we will naturally brood over our own unaccomplished lives and inevitable deaths.

And in this horrible world, Andrew Breitbart was a celebrity.

So in the wake of his death at the tender age of 43, a 40-something over at Gawker got to thinking about her own mortality.

To assist her in her nursing this macabre obsession, she dug up an awesome death predictor built by Carnegie Mellon University. Using data from the Centers for Disease Control, this death predictor will estimate how many people will die, and from what, over the next year, or the next five, 10, 30 years. This data can be drilled down to based on age, sex, geography, and so on.

So of course, I crunched my own numbers. Here's what I found.

The total number of predicted deaths in Colorado:


Of the 605 deaths in my age bracket, the biggest killers are accidents and suicide. I'm not feeling suicidal at the moment, and I don't ski, so maybe I can reduce that a bit. It's not until my 40s that those two get trumped by a natural cause.

Next, I thought, "Why not compare these numbers to another state?" The one that made the most sense for me was my previous home of 12 years, New York. Of course, I was expecting to find that my risk of dying had decreased with my move west. It's New York, after all, where you're either living in the densely populated, high-stress city, or out in the economic wastelands of upstate and Appalachia.

Instead, what I found was that in New York, there will be an estimated 2,285 deaths in my age bracket. More in total — but because the Empire State is more populous than this one, we have to look at the odds of dying. There we find that in Colorado, for someone my age, there is a 1,632 out of 1 million chance of dying. In New York, that number goes down to 1,586.

Living in Colorado, for some reason, is riskier for someone my age than living in New York. But once I hit 40, if I hit 40, living in Colorado becomes the safer option. So I guess I just moved too soon.

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