What’s Most Likely to Kill You (That Isn’t a Disease or Health Issue)

As morbid as it sounds, there’s no getting around the fact that every human on the planet has an expiration date. And while we may pour over every report regarding health issues, we can’t forget all the non-health related occurrences that can cut our lives short and lead to untimely death. With help from Our World In Data, we take a look at the things outside of disease and health issues that are most likely to kill you.


Boat on a flooded Puerto Rico street

Floods kill thousands of people a year. | Joe Raedle/Getty Images.

According to Our World In Data, 0.01% of the world’s deaths in 2016 were caused by natural disasters. (Just a little over 7,000 people.) This includes floods, which predominantly plague countries with low-lying coastal areas and river floodplains. Bangladesh and India are noted as having the most floods in the world, although Natural Disasters Association reminds us that severe floods in recent history have also occurred in Europe and the U.S.

Next: A natural disaster that is incredibly difficult to detect.


a crack in asphalt

Earthquakes are more likely to kill you than you think. | Justin Sullivan via Getty Images

Like most natural disasters, the number of deaths due to earthquakes varies every year depending on how many there are. According to Statista, less than 1,000 died as a result of being in an earthquake in 2014. This was a far cry from 2010 when a 7.0 earthquake in Haiti resulted in an estimated 316,000 deaths.

Next: This natural phenomenon can be a killer.


Tornado touching down in Oklahoma

Tornadoes are on the rise in the U.S. | NOAA Photo Library/Getty Images

As Live Science tells us, 2011 saw an incredibly large spike in tornado activity in the United States. Thus, the death toll skyrocketed. 1,704 confirmed tornadoes were responsible for the deaths of 553 people during that time frame. 158 deaths alone were caused by a EF5 tornado in Joplin, Missouri, making it the most deadly tornado since records started being kept on the matter in 1950.

Next: The U.S. has seen quite a few of these recently.


Hurricane Irma in Pembroke

We’ve seen by now just how deadly these storms are. | Michele Eve Sandberg/AFP/Getty Images

This colossal storm straddles two non-health related causes of death around the world — flooding, and drowning. Windows To The Universe tells us that an estimated 10,000 people die each year worldwide due to hurricane activity. The most costly of these deadly storms in U.S. history remains Hurricane Katrina in in 2005, which resulted in 1,833 deaths.

Next: The second-to-last biggest killer in the world is …


Two girls are wrapped in blankets and wearing mouse ears while talking to police.

Terrorism is a problem around the world. | Paul Ellis/AFP/Getty Images

Of recorded deaths in 2016, this was the second least common at 0.06% according to Our World In Data. Statista tells us that the number of deaths in the world due to terrorism was roughly 25,612. Statista noted that the number of individual terrorist attacks declined. between 2006 and 2016, although Our World In Data cautions that those numbers “can vary substantially from one year to the next.”

Next: When extremes turn deadly

Heat-related death

Midwest heatwave

Temperatures are on the rise around the world. | NASA/Wikimedia Commons

Heat-related deaths clocked in as making up 0.1% of deaths worldwide in 2016. According to the National Weather Service, there were 94 deaths in the US alone from over-heating. (There were reportedly only 45 heat deaths in 2015.) According to a study summarized by USA Today, the cold weather can be 20 times more deadly.

Next: This killer can take place right in your home.


a house on fire

Fire-related deaths are actually on the decline. | Josh Edelson/AFP/Getty Images

Fires claimed 0.24% of the death toll in 2016, according to Our World In Data. The U.S. Fire Administration reports that instances of fire-related deaths decreased by roughly 21% between 2006 and 2015. While massive natural and man-made fires dominate that news feeds, most instances of fire death are still caused by kitchen equipment, according to the National Fire Protection Association.

Next: This cause of death is extremely high in some parts of the world.


person in a warzone

A lot can go wrong when you’re living in a warzone. | Pablo Tosco/AFP/Getty Images

Our World In Data uses the general term “conflict” to categorize the 115,782 across the world in 2016. They also note that this cause of death can greatly vary from country to country. While death by conflict was virtually non-existent in the U.S. in 2016, it was one of the leading causes of death in Iraq over that same period of time.

Next: A couple factors can contribute to this cause of death.


man on a canoe in a lake

Hundreds of thousands of people die drowning every year. | Eduardo Soteras/AFP/Getty Images

While this can be a cause of death that occurs during floods — which falls under the natural disaster category — drowning deaths on their own accounted for 0.55% of deaths (302,932) around the world in 2016. The CDC reported in 2016 that there was an average of 332 boating-related drownings and a terrifying 3,536 unintentional or non-boating related drownings.

Next: This cause of death differs depending on the location.


the scene of a crime

Homicide is a problem around the world. | Mark Ralston/AFP/Getty Images

Homicide made up the middle of the pack of causes of death, clocking in at 390,794 fatalities in 2016. However, the breakdown greatly varied among the countries. It made up for 0.66% of deaths in the United States that year, compared to 0.07% in Germany.  On the other end of the spectrum, homicide was a top killer in Brazil, making up 4.6% of fatalities.

Next: This cause of death is unfortunately high across the board.


despaired woman sitting curled up in nature

Suicide is one of the leading non-disease-related deaths. | iStock.com/AkilinaWinner

According to the 2016 report, suicide had one of the highest death rates around the world for non-disease related deaths. Those 817,148 deaths were also spread out differently among different countries, but had a much higher rate across the board than homicides. In Germany, which had a low homicide rate that year, the number of reported suicides was nearly 17 times greater.

Next: The biggest non-health killer on the list.

Car crash

a car accident with a semi-truck

Road fatalaties take many lives each year. | Erik S. Lesser/Getty Images

Automobile accidents reportedly made up for a whopping 1.34 million deaths worldwide in 2016, roughly 2.45%. It clocked in as the seventh-highest cause of death in Iraq that year, making up for 3.64% of fatalities. By contrast, road incidences made up for 1.61% of fatalities in the U.S.

Next: So many deaths are not planned.


The back of an ambulance

Unintentional deaths are all too common. | Dan Kitwood/Getty Images

Unintentional deaths make up the bulk of deaths around the world. The CDC reports that there were 146,571 unintentional injury deaths in the U.S. in 2014 alone, along with 33,381 unintentional falling deaths and 47,478 accidental deaths by poisoning.

Next: Don’t drink the water.


Garbage in New York City

Unfortunately, poor sanitation is a fact of life around the world. | Andrew Burton/Getty Images.

Poor sanitation is one of the most health-connected causes of death on our list, because of the list of ailments it can cause. But it is also a leading cause of death in some countries. Our World In Data reports that in countries like Kenya that have trouble with clean drinking water, diarrhea diseases were the leading causes of death in 2016.

Next: Last, but certainly not least…

Old age

Elderly couple holding hands

Dying of old age is rarely recognized by U.S. officials. | iStock.com/vladans

With all the things that can end your life early, it’s a wonder that anybody simply dies of old age. But as it turns out, nobody in the U.S. officially dies of old age. This is because the National Center for Health Statistics reportedly doesn’t recognize old age as a cause of death because it has “little value for public health or medical research” and doctors are encouraged to list the immediate cause of death instead.

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