Switch on your television, pop on the radio, or open any newspaper, and you’ll be confronted with a plethora of horrifying images of war, murder, genocide, death, disease and terrorist atrocities, many of which are abroad, some of which occur in your own country, and a few even happen “just down the road”. Which begs the question – “how safe am I?”
Well, safer than you think. According to the Office of National Statistics, the odds on a western citizen being involved in a terrorist attack is 1:20,000,000 (one in twenty million), the odds of being murdered is 1:400,000 (one in four hundred thousand), and the chance you’ll be a serial killer’s next victim is 1:98,000,000 (one in ninety-eight million), with the odds of winning the national lottery being 1:14,000,000 - I know which one I'd prefer.
In 2015, in the United Kingdom, roughly 300 people (out of a population of 64 million) were murdered, a figure that year-on-year is steadily falling, with the vast majority of murders not being premeditated, often involving alcohol or drugs, and – if you are a sex-worker - you are forty-two times more likely to be killed than anyone else. So, how safe are you? Well, very safe.
With these odds, you might live forever, just as long as you don’t go outside, go to work, take a shower, drink any water, eat any food, or breathe any air… the result of which will kill you. Life is a very dangerous pursuit, by simply being awake we take our lives in our hands. But how dangerous is life? Very… if you’re not careful.
What follows is a list of statistics on the most likely ways that the average human being will die (which I hope will dispel any ridiculous notions that, just because the news is full of horrible stories, that we should all “stay in, to stay safe”). The top three are of course:
#1 - 1:3 Odds on dying from cancer, diabetes or heart/lung-disease
#2 - 1:4 Odds on dying by hereditary illness, communicable disease or bad nutrition
#3 - Odds increased by an additional 1:10 of dying by #1 is you smoke tobacco
All of which we can do something about, but – more often than not – we choose not to. To be honest there’s a wealth of unremarkable ways (courtesy of the National Safety Council) that the average person dies every year, and almost all of them are entirely preventable:
With, as we’ve seen, the top three odds being 1:28 Stroke, 1:7 Cancer and 1:6 Heart Disease. But that’s not the complete list. Of course there’s Malaria which kills 800,000 people per year, natural phenomenons (tornadoes, tsunamis, volcanoes, etc) which kill 150,000 each year, as well as:
But even that doesn’t cover the really dangerous pursuits in life, including: snowboarding with the odds on dying being 1:2million, skiing 1:1.4m, swimming 1:1m, running 1:1m, bungee-jumping 1:500,000, cycling 1:140,000, sky-diving 1:100,000, scuba-diving 1:34000, boxing 1:2200, hand-gliding 1:560, Grand Prix racing 1:100, and base-jumping 1:60.
And neither does it cover some of the real oddities, such as: death by computer game 1:100million, death by nuclear explosion 1:10million, drowning in your own bath 1:685,000, an earthquake 153,587, an accident at work 1:43500, and… having a dinner party, the odds of you dying is 1:100,000 (including alcohol/food poisoning, accident, electrocution and drowning).
So, how safe are you, really? As safe as you want to be. But you’ll be no safer, sitting inside your own home, watching the news, and worrying about all the horrible things which could – but probably won’t – kill you. Instead... book a ticket to Murder Mile Walks. Hoorah!
Michael J Buchanan-Dunne is a writer, crime historian and tour-guide who runs Murder Mile Walks, a guided tour of Soho’s most notorious murder cases, hailed as “one of the top ten quirky & unusual things to do in London” and featuring 18 murderers, 3 serial killers, across 21 locations, totalling 75 deaths, over just a one mile walk.
Michael J Buchanan-Dunne is a crime historian, writer and tour guide of Murder Mile Walks.