13 June 2012
ENDING IT ALL
Here's something I did not expect ~ death has a preference for birthdays. A research summary linked by Andrea Kuszewski explains ~ "Researchers studying mortality rates on over two million people over a forty year time span have found that statistically speaking, people are more likely to die on their birthday, than any other day of the year. Bumping the numbers are suicides by men, who apparently find the ultimate milestone a little too hard to bear. But those deaths aren't enough to account for the overall fourteen percent increased likelihood that any given person will die on the same day as the day they were born, compared to any other day of the year.
" .... The number that really stands out, of course, is the 34.9% greater chance of dying by suicide by men on their birthdays .... some have suggested higher death rates on birthdays is likely attributable to those trying to hang on, for whatever reasons, to reach their birthday. [The] research doesn't agree with such speculation, however, [adding that increased] stress on birthdays is most likely the culprit, noting that average alcohol consumption goes up on birthdays as well."
What a concept. I suppose much depends on the number and severity of stressors in one's life, but it seems counter-intuitive to choose one's birthday to exit this mortal coil. I've thought about death over the years (who hasn't?), and other things being equal, I know I'd like to leave this life during the same season in which I entered it ~ Spring. There's a nice balance there, giving up the nutrients in my body to rejoin the cycle of life. No embalming fluids, metal caskets, or cremation for me ~ just a winding sheet or a plain pine box in which to decompose naturally. I'd like to be buried in a natural setting, with a tree sapling planted on my grave. It pleases me to think of wild animals and birds making their home in my tree, or human children playing in it.
But I'm in no hurry. Unless I come down with some virulent disease which leaves me in misery and unable to enjoy life, I shall persist as long as I can. There remains so much beauty still to discover ~ music, art, books, travel, friends, laughter, fine food, soul-splitting ideas. As for dying on my birthday, I don't think so. A birthday is a time of celebration (although I suppose there are circumstances in which ending one's life might feel like a celebration). I do know this ~ as I and my peers become older, I'm going to be careful about sneaking up behind a celebrant and yelling "Happy Birthday" ~ the unintended consequences could be fatal.