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A few morbid death stats to brighten your Friday

Some of you may have seen my Facebook status a few days ago about Icelandic birth stats [666 Icelanders born on Christmas Day, gah!] — now here comes some more useless trivia — death stats* [what else?] based on figures from 1996-2009.

About twice as many Icelanders die during the winter than in the summer [blame the flu]. The greatest number of Icelanders die on January 3 [anything to do with New Years? No, I’m just sayin’], and the fewest on 27 July. Indeed, the last few days in July seem to have significantly lower death rates than the rest of the year.

Last year there were 2002 deaths in Iceland. The most common causes of death in this country are circulatory diseases and cancer [which I’m guessing is pretty much the same as in other Western societies]. About a third of those who died last year did so from circulatory diseases [including heart conditions and strokes], and around 28 percent died from cancer. The third largest cause of death is respiratory diseases.

[Speaking of which! This summer I have been plagued by respiratory problems. I have never, ever in my life had a problem with heavy breathing [heh] until now. Got a really seriously bad cold a couple of months ago, it took forever to shake it, and ever since then I’ve had asthma. And you know what? I BLAME EYJAFJALLAJÖKULL. Because I seem to get worse on days when there is a lot of wind and we have ash blowing all over the place. /TANGENT]

Anyway, back to my morbid smorgasbord of death stats. Last year 118 Icelanders died from “external causes” which apparently is about the same number as in previous years. Of those, there were 36 suicides and ten traffic-related deaths.

There. I hope that carries you into the weekend feeling all warm and fuzzy.

* Shamelessly filched from Fréttablaðið this morning.



Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Michael Schulz September 24, 2010, 3:00 pm

    Any suicide statistics related to Kreppa?

  • Michael Lewis September 24, 2010, 4:28 pm

    Proof that Icelanders should travel overseas for new year celebrations, statistically speaking your killing those that are left there if you do take a holiday 😉

  • Sue Story September 24, 2010, 6:39 pm

    That is a very low suicide rate. And what is traffic like there. I live in West Virginia and it seems we average 10 a day. And this is not a very dense area. (I am not going to say a word on the drivers.)

  • James September 24, 2010, 7:04 pm

    An annual overlay graph with temperature on the left Y-axis and deaths on the right Y-axis….

  • alda September 24, 2010, 7:09 pm

    @ MS — haven’t seen any linked to the kreppa, no.

    @ Sue — you do know the population of Iceland is only 320,000, right? If we were averaging 10 deaths a day in traffic accidents we’d be down to 0 people in no time.

  • Sue September 24, 2010, 9:12 pm

    @alda: of course I know that the pop. of Iceland is not nearly what it is in the US. I am not as internationally ignorant as some of my fellow world citizens.

  • Luna Sea September 24, 2010, 9:47 pm

    Suicide rates haven’t gone up since the kreppa, there were 36 in 2009. Deaths by car accidents seem to be at an all time low, 13 in 2009.
    This is according to Statistics Island – a most fascinating way to waste time when I should be doing other things.


  • Luna Sea September 24, 2010, 9:49 pm

    Should have read Statistics Iceland (one day I’ll proof before submitting and not after)

  • Simon Brooke September 24, 2010, 10:38 pm

    The 10 a year for road deaths still seems remarkably low. In Britain we have around 3000 road deaths per year which if my calculations are right is about one death per year per twenty thousand people, or five per hundred thousand. So on Iceland’s population we would have sixteen deaths per year, substantially more than you have.

    I’ll admit that surprises me. With Iceland’s penchant for large 4x4s and your relatively poor quality rural roads, I would have expected your death rate to be higher than ours. Icelanders are obviously better drivers!

    As a matter of interest, do you know how many kilometers the average Icelander drives in a year?

  • Michael Lewis September 24, 2010, 11:26 pm

    Given the high price of booze, lack of winter sun, Ingmar Bergman films, and the like, I’m amazed more Nordic people and skint Icelanders in particular, don’t top themselves.

    The ‘happy country’ statistics still put Iceland quite high up: this with, what I read as one of the highest divorce rates (divorce seemingly is a Nordic pastime) – and high numbers of women who work whilst still having children.

    Having visited the Pacific Islands, nothing will convince me, that sun, sea, laid back attitude, sitting around in a lava lava, having a cuddle with the other half, and drinking kava isn’t a perfect recipe for happiness.

  • alda September 24, 2010, 11:27 pm

    Ten IS actually quite low, and now that I think of it, last year was a remarkably “good” year in terms of traffic-related deaths. It’s usually quite a bit higher — I think around 20, give or take, is a more common figure.

  • Nat September 25, 2010, 1:16 am

    If this blog doesn’t brighten anyones weekend I donno what will.

  • alda September 25, 2010, 1:20 am

    Well that comment just brightened mine! 🙂

  • Rajan Parrikar September 25, 2010, 3:37 am

    Re. breathing problems – try Pranayama.

  • idunn September 25, 2010, 6:11 am

    Trust you feel entirely well soon.

    I’m curios why there should be such a high incidence of respiratory ailments in Iceland? More usually not a volcano erupting?

    Out of curiosity I also looked into the traffic fatalities, as a total of ten seems such a low number, even given the smaller population. I’m thinking lower speed limits, possibly more sane drivers than elsewhere?

    The United States has 1,000 people for every one in Iceland. Or a population of roughly 306,000,000 against Iceland’s 306,000. It suffered 33,808 traffic deaths in 2009, against the 10 you cite. If my math is correct, then with an adjusted population of the same size the US would have had 33 traffic fatalities, or three times as many.

  • Jonathan September 25, 2010, 11:15 am

    Why on earth would you commit suicide in Iceland? It’s a great place!

  • sylvia hikins September 25, 2010, 12:15 pm

    Statistics just out from the UK show that people who have the flu jab in September or early October have a 47% less chance of dying during the winter than those unvaccinated. So to make your blog lighter for
    September 24th 2011 all of you Icelanders who can should go down to your Health Centres and bare your arms. This is one case where a little prick could be a life-saver!!!!
    sylvia from viking wirral

  • Jonathan September 25, 2010, 1:09 pm

    I wouldn’t go near a flu jab if I were you Sylvia, or a little prick for that matter!

  • kevin oconnor,waterford,ireland September 25, 2010, 6:44 pm

    More suicides than traffic deaths thats interesting ,I wonder if its the same here if that is the case then suicides dont get big press coverage whereas we seem to do one road death a day here.

  • kevin oconnor,waterford,ireland September 25, 2010, 7:42 pm

    Totally unrelated now for something completely different heres a picture of your prezzzie with vladmir this week.


  • Kris September 26, 2010, 6:35 am

    I like Putin and the Pres, too. Putin has great propaganda. Anyone kill a bear lately? I think Putin is a patriot, unlike the globalists running other countries that will remain nameless, at least for this message.
    I haven’t had a flu shot since childhood. Don’t trust them anymore. Cod liver is the way to go!
    Things are so twisted at the FDA that a lawyer from Monsanto is running the safe food program.

  • kevin oconnor,waterford,ireland September 26, 2010, 1:19 pm

    Yet more stats continuing on Alda’s theme, interesting Icelandic Stats site lots of flash visuals, history of the krona exchange rate it was worth 6.23 to the US dollar back in 1981 strange but true however today 120=$1, you must have a passion for inflation up there.


    This and much much more for all you Icelandic stats freaks out there in cyberspace 🙂

  • alda September 26, 2010, 1:30 pm

    Actually that’s not the official Statistics Iceland site (if that’s what you meant Kevin) but a private company that’s doing some really good stuff data-wise.

  • kevin oconnor,waterford,ireland September 26, 2010, 2:04 pm

    @Alda yes and I particularly like their animations, the age pyramid animation is cool Iceland no country for old men like me at age 50, you have the demographic profile of a third world country everyone seems under 50 compared to 1913 which had a more normal conifer type profile ha ha, probably explains social change in Iceland over 100yrs goes from staid insulated,insular society run by the elders to happening party scene that produces little gems like “101 Reykjavik” your not really all like that are you ? 🙂

  • alda September 26, 2010, 2:18 pm

    Oh, sure we are! And I agree – animated population pyramid, v. cool!

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