Strange ways to die

Will your death make the headlines? Only if you were highly successful in life—or if you’re singled out for the oddity of your demise.

Your odds of dying from a rat bite (likely due to a resulting case of rat bite fever) are 1 in 299,400,000. Just one person in the US died this way in 2006. Encounters with marine animals—think sting rays—also killed one person (1 in 299,400,000 that year.)

Stings and bites from non-venomous arthropods, those crawly creatures with hard outer shells, such as insects, spiders, and crustaceans, kill 1 in 42,770,000 per year. Although this statistic does not include deaths from arthropods with venom—namely, bees and wasps—victims may die in the same manner, from a sudden and severe allergic reaction called anaphylactic shock. Otherwise innocuous bites can also transmit viruses that cause the brain to swell; the odds a person in the US will die this way are 1 in 49,400,000 annually.

Have you heard? Excessive noise can also be a killer. A person’s odds of dying due to noise exposure in 2000 were 1 in 281,400,000.

The odds of dying in a human stampede, such as the mob that trampled Wal-Mart worker Jdimytai Damour in a shopping frenzy on Black Friday in 2008, vary from year to year, but 2003 was especially dangerous. Two separate nightclub stampedes, at the E2 in Chicago and the Station in West Warwick, Rhode Island, resulted in 121 deaths from trampling and fire; the odds of dying during a stampede that year were 1 in 13,220,000.

And it’s not only people who can run you over. According to the CDC, from 2003 to 2007, 108 people in the US were killed by cows, including a 74-year-old farmer in Kansas who was trampled by a bull while trying to move him from one pasture to another. See (” Behind the Numbers: Death by Cow.”)

Being indoors is not always safer; even ordinary items can kill under the right circumstances. Hot tap water accidentally kills 1 in 9,356,000 people in the US every year. A trip to the vending machine turns lethal for 1 in 112,000,000 people. And a Japanese manufacturer of foot massagers issued a public warning after three people reportedly strangled themselves while using devices to massage their shoulders.

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