15 bizarre facts about death
Death is a morbid topic. Yet it’s one that fascinates many people. Probably because death is an experience that everyone will face at one point or another. So, why not take some time and learn 15 bizarre facts about death. They cover a wide range of topics from Chinese funerals to strange deaths.
#1 Life After Death?
Did you know that the human head remains conscious for between 15 and 20 seconds after being decapitated?
When you stop to consider that a cockroach can live for 9 days without its head, you suddenly appreciate being a human even more!
#2 High School Athletes
When you think of high school-age athletes, you probably think of young people in their prime where health is concerned. If so, you’ll be shocked to learn that 1 in 200,000 high school athletes die suddenly each year.
The majority of the deaths occur in basketball and football. It’s also found that young men are five times more likely than young women to die.
#3 Where do Most People Die?
If you had to guess, where do you think most people die? If you said the hospital, you are correct! Even though Hospice and other home healthcare agencies make it possible for you to die at home, 80% of people die at the hospital.
#4 Burials do WHAT to the Soil?
This is probably not something that most people think about, but burials are actually bad for the soil.
Consider this – the average U.S. burial puts hundreds of gallons of embalming fluid into the soil. Don’t forget that embalming fluid contains dangerous substances such as formaldehyde and ethanol.
#5 Seasonal Suicide?
Some people think that death by suicide is more common during the holiday season. However, this is not true. In fact, if you look at the numbers – the opposite is true!
This is one of the reasons people love the holiday season. It really brings cheer and is one of the happiest times of the year for most people.
#6 Another Fascinating Fact About Death! Death Erections
This is one of the more intimate facts of death that most people don’t know.
When a human male is executed, primarily by hanging he develops what is known as a death erection, angel lust, or terminal erection. Such postmortem erections are technically priapisms and probably caused by the circulation of the blood being cut off.
#7 Most People Don’t Burn to Death
When you think of death by fire you may think that the victim was burned to death. This isn’t the case.
In fact, most people who die in fires don’t die from the burns at all, they actually suffocate from the lack of oxygen and the inhalation of gases such as carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, and hydrogen cyanide.
#8 A Lack of Oxygen
Do you remember being a child and trying to hold your breath as long as you could? This can only be accomplished for so long until your body forces you to take a breath. Breathing is an involuntary reflex and you can only willingly trick it for so long.
However, when accidents occur, a person’s oxygen supply can get cut off. The lack of oxygen is a common cause of all accidents involving death.
#9 Digestion Enzymes
Warning! This is one of the more graphic facts about death!
In life, your body uses enzymes to digest the foods you eat. Within 3 days of death, these same enzymes begin to digest the tissues of your body.
#10 New York City Facts of Death
Picture New York City. Do you think there are more suicides or murders in the city? While the media and news outlets constantly report deaths by murder, the truth is more people commit suicide than die by murder.
At the same time though – suicide is technically still murder, it’s just self-inflicted.
#11 Old Age Can’t Kill You
Well, of course, it can but not according to the U.S. government. While it’s common for Americans to die of old age, the government doesn’t classify “old age” as a cause of death.
Much like stress can kill you, old age can too. However, they are not considered causes of death because they usually lead to something else that actually kills you. For example, stress or old age can lead to a heart attack.
#12 Strange Deaths
The last place most people want to die is in the bathroom – what a precarious situation! Yet still, some famous people have done just this!
Who, you ask? Well, Elvis Presley, Lenny Bruce, Orville Redenbacher, and Robert Pastorelli to name a few!
#13 The Effects of Cremation on the Environment
While most people understand that burials can have a negative effect on the environment, some are shocked to learn that cremations also pollute the Earth.
The cremation process releases many gases into the air. Such gases include dioxins, mercury vapor (dental fillings), hydrochloric acid, sulfur dioxide, and carbon dioxide.
#14 So many Euphemisms!
The English language has over 200 euphemisms for death. Some common ones include: bit the big one, checked out, kicked the bucket, bitten the dust, assumed room temperature, popped their clogs, and more.
Even though death is a heavy subject, comedians commonly add it into their stand up routines. There are even horror movies that double as comedies. In such movies, you never know how the characters will die!
#15 Exotic Dancers at Chinese Funerals?
This is one of the more shocking facts of death!
In Chinese tradition, a person who dies can bring their family good luck if many people show up at the funeral. For this reason, family members will go out and round up a bunch of attendees regardless if they knew the person who died or not.
One common way to get people to go is to hire exotic dancers for the funeral procession. I guess that’s one way to get attention!
Check out the full infographic below. Also, don’t forget to checkout our interesting infographic about ‘Mass Hysteria‘.
Further reading: How To Find Out If Someone Has A Will
Original infographic published in 2011, content updated December 2022.