Heart disease and cancer are the most common killers in the United States but a new map sheds more light on exactly what’s killing Americans in each of the 50 states.
Using statistics from 2001 to 2010, the map highlights the “most distinctive” causes of death, rather than what kills the most people. A ‘distinctive’ cause of death is when the rate is higher compared to the national average.
The map is “a somewhat of a colorful and provocative way of starting some conversations and highlighting some unusual things that are going on,” study co-author Francis Boscoe told LiveScience.
The flu was the most distinctive cause of death in Maine, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming. In mining states like Kentucky, Pennsylvania and West Virginia, lung diseases caused by inhaling certain dusts were the most distinctive causes of death.
Dying in a plane or boat accident was the most distinctive cause of death in Alaska and Idaho, while sepsis was the most distinctive cause of death in New Jersey. The most distinctive cause of death in New York and Connecticut was inflammatory diseases of pelvic organs.
Possibly the most surprising statistic comes from Nevada, New Mexico and Oregon, where deaths caused by law enforcement officers — not including legal executions — were the most distinctive cause of death in those states, meaning “death by police officer” occurred in those states at a higher rate compared to the national average.
The numbers of “distinctive” deaths vary greatly. For example, 15,000 people in Florida died of HIV, the most distinctive cause of death there. Meanwhile, there were 22 deaths from syphilis, the most distinctive cause of death in Louisiana.