Fun Facts About…Death

The times they are a-changin’.

This post seems to be older than 17 years—a long time on the internet. It might be outdated.

No, I’m not in a morbid mood. I’m just clearing out my Inboxen™. Here are some of my favorite facts:


  • No American has died of old age since 1951.
  • That was the year the government eliminated that classification on death certificates.
  • The trigger of death, in all cases, is lack of oxygen. Its decline may prompt muscle spasms, or the “agonal phase,” from the Greek word agon, or contest.
  • Within three days of death, the enzymes that once digested your dinner begin to eat you. Ruptured cells become food for living bacteria in the gut, which release enough noxious gas to bloat the body and force the eyes to bulge outward.
  • So much for recycling: Burials in America deposit 827,060 gallons of embalming fluid–formaldehyde, methanol, and ethanol–into the soil each year. Cremation pumps dioxins, hydrochloric acid, sulfur dioxide, and carbon dioxide into the air.
  • Zoroastrians in India leave out the bodies of the dead to be consumed by vultures.
  • The vultures are now dying off after eating cattle carcasses dosed with diclofenac, an anti-inflammatory used to relieve fever in livestock.
  • For organs to form during embryonic development, some cells must commit suicide. Without such programmed cell death, we would all be born with webbed feet, like ducks.
  • Waiting to exhale: In 1907 a Massachusetts doctor conducted an experiment with a specially designed deathbed and reported that the human body lost 21 grams upon dying. This has been widely held as fact ever since. It’s not.
  • Eighty percent of people in the United States die in a hospital.
  • If you can’t make it here . . . More people commit suicide in New York City than are murdered.
  • It is estimated that 100 billion people have died since humans began.

via BoingBoing