As a society we have an obsession with death and dying, living our lives constantly ‘rubbernecking’ over every situation we may come across. Our news stations and documentaries pick apart the details of the most gruesome of fatalities, highlighting the gory details of the case and revealing the facts of how this person came to meet their end.
While this should, one would think, disturb us, it instead fascinates us, driving us to learn more about serial killers, mass murders, and other such casualties.
As Louis Rene Beres, professor of political science at Purdue University explains, “Just look around the country at any moment in any direction. We will notice at once that crime and murder are taking a distinctly peculiar turn. Whether it be in the movies, in music, on television, or on the streets, death – especially if it is manifestly brutish, macabre and perverse – is all the rage.”
It is estimated that approximately 8 out of every 1000 Americans will die of either natural or unnatural causes each year. Of those, how many will have a death that will turn heads, draw attention and make the newspapers? We aren’t just talking about those that will make a good story, but those deaths that are so brutal that even scientists agree they would rate as one of the worst ways to die.
Here are 7 of the worst ways to die, according to scientists:
#1 – Struck by Lightning
Ok, the odds of you being struck by lightning are incredibly slim, but it’s not impossible! It is estimated that 1 in every 1,083,000 Americans is struck by lightning each year. When you are struck by lightning, the bolt will move throughout your body. Often leaving deep wounds where it entered and exited. It will also cause serious burns throughout your body and may even cause your hair or clothing to catch fire. You may experience blood vessels bursting, or even your eardrums rupturing. The whole experience is, according to survivors, incredibly painful.
While the odds are rare, one man, in particular, demonstrates that even the impossible is possible. The 53-year-old man whose location has been undisclosed was not only struck by lightning, he was struck by lightning while inside. Investigators, after discovering his badly burned body, noticed that there were steel beams protruding from the cottage that he was in during the storm. They concluded that a lightning bolt must have traveled down the beams arcing through metal tools that he had been using inside at the time.
#2 – Radiation Poisoning
As a child many of us dreamt of being exposed to radiation, picturing an incredible transformation with the development of superpowers as depicted in many of our favorite comic books. Unfortunately, the truth is far more gruesome, and the death that results from radiation positioning is a long and painful one.
Such was the agonizing death of Hiroshi Ouchi, a 35-year-old man who was exposed to an incredible amount of radiation in the form of neutron beams at a uranium reprocessing facility in Tokaimura, Japan. Ouchi was kept alive for approximately 3 months, but during that time his skin would blister and begin to fall off his body, and his internal organs would slowly fail. His death lasted a total of 83 days, most of which he spent in a medically induced coma, but despite the efforts of his doctors, there was no cure to be found.
#3 – Death by Molten Lava
While most of you are probably laughing slightly, assuming that this one is from tales of years long behind us, the risk of an erupting volcano isn’t restricted to Roman times. In fact, there has been a lot of buzz lately about the activity surrounding the Yellowstone supervolcano.
In incredible temperatures associated with molten lava mean that most of those who are impacted died an incredibly quick death, ‘flash frying’ anyone that it came across. In fact, the heat hit so quickly that victims are often found frozen in a state known as ‘instant rigor mortis. Those who have worked in the area of archaeology around areas like Pompeii report that the heat hit so quickly that it would cause the fluids within the skulls of those in the area to boil, causing their skulls to shatter and explode. There would be a select few that miraculously survived the initial death, however, they would be left to suffocate under the layers of volcanic ash and gases.
#4 – Falling in a Volcanic Hot Pot
Molten lava isn’t the only risk posed by volcanos. Surrounding many volcanos, including the supervolcano in Yellowstone, one can find a system of geysers and hot springs, kept heated by the heat from the volcano itself. Not only are these areas often incredibly hot, but they are often incredibly acidic. Thus, falling into one would not only result in a burn but serious damage from the acidity of the pool. Despite the incredible risk, visitors and tourists in the area often take incredible risks leading to fatal accidents.
Such is the case of a man that fell into a pool in within the Norris Geyser Basin. Experts estimate that the man felt little pain, as it would not have taken long for his skin to literally be burned away, the subcutaneous fat to boil away and along with both, the nerve endings. They say the man would have either succumbed to extreme heat shock or bled out, however, the acid completely dissolved the remains, even the skeleton, so there is no way to determine which actually killed him.
#5 – Death by Starvation
There are very few things that we MUST have in order to survive – food, water, and shelter recognized as the most basic of human necessities. While it is agreed that we need food to survive, an absence of food isn’t a quick death by any means. In fact, the body can last a surprisingly long time as it slowly succumbs to starvation. The lack of food isn’t always the direct cause, as starvation weakens your immune system leaving you susceptible to a number of infections. If the infections don’t get you, however, your organs will begin to fail, leading to death, in many cases, from cardiac arrest.
A 58-year-old man in Germany decided to end his life, settling on starvation as his method of choice. Isolating himself from the world deep in the forest, he kept a journal where he detailed the reasons why he chose to take his life along with an account of the physical impact of his starvation. He talked about the dryness of his skin and the experience as his internal organs began to slowly shut down.
#6 – Sudden Change of Pressure
This isn’t a death that is likely going to happen to the average American, however, as we continue to push the boundaries and explore new areas and depths of the world around us, we are exposing ourselves to new risks. For those that take part in activities such as exploring the depths of the ocean, we count on technology to protect us. One such device, known as the ‘diving bell’ is a highly pressurized chamber designed to allow divers to reach dangerous depths that have otherwise been seen as inaccessible.
While divers employ a number of safety precautions, situations like these will never be 100% safe, as a team of divers learned back in November 1983. As the diving bell returned to shallow waters, the divers were moving through a sealed passageway between the highly pressurized diving bell and a decompression chamber when something failed, causing the bell to explosively decompress. Three divers were killed instantly as the change in pressure caused both the air and fluids in their body to rapidly expand rupturing their internal organs. A fourth diver, standing nearest to the door of the diving bell, was completely obliterated.
#7 – Death by Venomous Snake
We are lucky today, with access to anti-venom for nearly every potential venomous snake that exists in close proximity to the human population, however that doesn’t eliminate the fact that these bites can be fatal if they are not treated quickly enough. There are approximately 20 different types of venomous snakes in the United States, with at least one type of venomous snake found in every state with the exception of Hawaii and Alaska, however, it is estimated that only 5 people die from venomous bites each year.
As the venom works its way through the human body it can cause a series of incredibly painful reactions including intense nausea, bleeding from the mouth, nose, and eyes, and difficulty breathing. Herpetologist Karl P. Schmidt was bitten by a boomslang in September 1957 at Chicago’s Natural History Museum. During the hours that followed, leading up to his death, he kept a diary of his experiences and suffering, painting a gruesome picture.