Why do people die? Most people will acknowledge at some stage in their life that they have considered the question, why do some people die? Others will try hard not to even contemplate the concept of death, while some accept it with alaclarity. Some people choose to explain life and death through spirituality, by experiences they have gained through life, through their up-bringing and their family beliefs, and other’s accept that they just don’t get any say in the matter.
As a paramedic, I deal with death on a regular basis and as a consequence, feel that I am in a better position than the average human being to explain why people die – but the reality is, as a paramedic, having seen people live and die many hundreds of times in the past decade or more, all I have come to understand of death is that it is inevitable and that it is different for everyone.
The following are some reasons why people die that I have identified:
1. At a clinical and physiological level the reason a person will die is that person stops eating/defecating, breathing or their heart ceases to pump, their life will cease.
2. If a person fails to see a point in their existence, a reason to get up in the morning and be alive, they will cease to exist. This is plain as day. I have seen patients who have worked hard all of their lives, only to die suddenly two days after retirement. This does not mean that you should never retire, but that you should have some purpose for living past retirement – this may simply be, to read a good book, to visit family, to travel or any number of other interesting reasons to live after retirement.
3. If you no longer have family or friends to share your life with. I have seen it litterally hundreds of times before, where a person will die within hours of their husband, wife or life-time partner dying. They do not wish to be alive anymore and consequently, cease to exist. This is also common in people who have never been married or had children, and as a consequence reach the years exceeding 80, in which most of their friends have died and now they have no one left to share their life with. Statistically, you will live as many as 7-10 years longer if you have children!
4. If you lead an unhealthy lifestyle you will increase your risk of sudden death, but many unhealty people still live to their old age. Unhealthy lifestyle habits, such as smoking, drug use, sleep deprivation, alcohol consumption and obesity are all linked to reduction in longevity.
5. Continuous high risk takers are also more likely to die earlier. This is simple statistics, if you partake in high risk activities, such as base jumping, climbing mountains, etc there is a higher likelihood that one of these things will cause your sudden demise. But, for many people the benefits that they get in life by taking these risks will actually increase their longevity, if they are lucky enough not to die suddenly from an accident.
6. Studies on centarians (people who live to be in excess of 100 years of life) have show little similarities. One of the few factors identified has been that all of their blood results have shown consistently low levels of blood sugar (BSL) and un-commonly low levels of insulin. One theory is that insulin or sugar (both generally go hand in hand) are contributing factors for cell degeneration. Unfortunately, other than eating a well balanced diet, low in sugars, people cannot change this for themselves.
After all this, why do people die?
One of the best explanations for why people die that I have identified is that having a definite end time (cesation of life), whether it is soon or far in the future, gives our lives meaning and significance. Instead of thinking that we are going to live forever and achieve things eventually, the knowledge of our eventual death gives importance to each day.
There are many other spiratual reasons that people may quote, but that’s about as good as it gets for me.
As a paramedic, I’m still confused by the concept of death. I’ve attended people who have fallen 6 stories on to concrete, only to have broken their legs, or the person who stepped in front of a slow moving train, but was so drunk that the he bent to fit underneath the center of the tracks, tearing many of his ligaments but allowing him to live. On the other hand, I have attended a young fit, healthy person, who died while reversing her car and being side-swiped at less than 20kms per hour – just the random way that she was turning with her head, and the point of impact, being enough to snap her neck and kill her immediately.
So, why do people die? People just die – everyone does.