Statistics Canada released its Mortality, Summary List of Causes 2007 (1.0 MB PDF) today, with a ton of tables on causes of death, by provinces, territories and country, gender, age, etc.
As morbid as it may sound, I thought it was a rather interesting document to browse through. It’s not because I wanted to know about all the ways that people died, in summary groups, but rather how they compared to each other. We often hear about stats on various diseases, accidents, criminal activities and other causes of death. However, it’s often without context, like how does it really compare to other causes since lots of people die every day, or the context whoever is trying to persuade you of something wants you to hear. In other words, death stats are often presented to you in propaganda format. Lobbying format if you want to be kinder.
What the tables in the Mortality Summary List does is let you go through those numbers yourself, though they would generally be of more interest to Canadians since it is about Canadians. See the big and the small numbers of deaths and their causes. Which ones topped the list? Find the causes you’re interested in and see how the number who died compared to other causes. How does cancer compare to car accidents? Is AIDS that prevalent any more? See how it is in your province or territory. Are the top causes the same? Maybe even make comparisons, though you’ll have to do a per capita (per person) or percentage type of calculation to have a fair comparison in some cases. The Mortality Summary List even provided some of those calculations for you!
You’ll never had such a clear idea of what Canadians died of in your life! Were things the way you thought they were? You may want to rethink some things about various issues related to death, whether disease, crime or otherwise, especially where priorities should be put.
Makes for a great school project or presentation, too! Do it well and I promise show and tell won’t have been this interesting in a long time! 🙂
It is too bad this data is relatively old, being for the year 2007 when we are almost nearing the end of 2010. StatCan is generally pretty good at being far more up to date than that. Odd, though, that they have economic data for so many things up to the month when what’s called vital statistics such as this lags almost 3 years behind. However, unless there were some shocking new trend, and I mean shocking by numbers, not by gruesome image or high profile media stories like shark attacks, things won’t have changed much. You’re still getting a pretty good idea of what’s happening. That said, in 2007, deaths by major cardiovascular (heart) disease passed deaths by cancer for the first time in 10 years, though the trend had been predictable from previous years. Together, heart disease and cancer combined for a staggering 59% of all Canadian deaths in 2007.
Can you see the impact of obesity on society coming? Who wants to bet this order remains the same for most of the next 10, maybe even 20 years?
Anyway, it isn’t morbid to mull over stuff like this. Death is a part of life. While this is not a spiritual examination like my philosophy in the previous sentence often suggests, it is a social understanding of it for Canadian society.
And whatever tangents your mind goes on thinking about death, it certainly is a lot to think about!
Seriously, it’s not a morbid exercise. Quite enlightening, in fact. I hope you give it a look.
I’d should do some research to find an American equivalent to have a look. I bet that’d be real interesting, too!