Thursday, September 10, 2009

How Will You Die?

Assess your risk of death from accidents and disease.

In Greek mythology, Cassandra is granted the gift of prophecy after Apollo, mesmerized by her beauty, falls in love with her. But the gift turns to a curse when she doesn’t return his affection. Doomed to suffer in frustration and misery when her dire warnings of future catastrophes are ignored, Cassandra ultimately foresees her own death. For most of us, how and when our lives will end is a question we’re happy to leave unanswered. But for those who want a clue into what might do them in, a new Web site created by researchers at Carnegie Mellon University can help.

The Death Risk Rankings site allows users to sort death data by sex, race, geographical location, cause of death and age. There are many, many ways to organize the data, but just a simple search on age and sex reveals some interesting trends. For example, accidents are the leading cause of death (32.3 percent) for women 20-29, but cancer takes the top spot (22.1 percent) for women 30-39. The risk of dying from circulatory diseases nearly doubles for the older age group, as well. If getting older has a silver lining, it’s that a woman’s chance of being murdered drops by more than half from the 20-29 age range (8.7 percent) to 30-39 (4 percent).

Cancer strikes men and women about equally, but men have it worse when it comes to being murdered or dying in accidents. Overall, the numbers reflect what we already know: Old people die from heart attacks and disease; young people die in accidents.

Now that you know how to determine your risk of dying from various causes, you can also find out when you’re likely to die. Simply type “when will I die?” into Bing search to find numerous calculators. But be careful—as Cassandra found out, there’s such a thing as too much information.

My When Will I Die Quiz results:

I have 33 years left to live.
I will die in 2042 at age 86.
I am beating the average lifespan for someone my age by 3 years.
To put it another way, I have the health of a 50 year old woman.
I have lived 62% of my life already.