If you toss aside the common causes of death in the nation, what distinctive cause of death is first in your state?

We all know heart disease and cancer are the leading killers. But, CDC researchers Dr. Francois Boscoe and Eva Pradhan wanted to find the top ‘distinctive’ causes of death for each state.

The pair combined the National Center For Health Statistics’ 133 Selected Causes of Death with CDC databases to come up with the map.

My state? Alabama’s most distinctive cause of death is accidental discharges of firearms. We share the horror with Tennessee. Growing up around firearms all my life, this just should not happen. Keep all firearms locked up and treat every gun you touch as if it’s loaded.

These stats should not exist.

For other states, you can guess the ballpark of the ‘distinctive’ cause of death. Take Maine, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming. Cold states. Rural. What would be the most distinctive? Death caused by flu.

most distinctive causes f death

The history of coal showed in Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Kentucky’s top spot. Pneumoconiosis, a group of lung diseases caused by inhaling dust, was number one in all three as the distinctive cause of death.

Alaska and Idaho? These two states define remote living. Plane and boat crashes topped in both states due to inaccessibility by cars.

Other states you would never guess with this study. Take Florida. Its number one was HIV. Over the study period (2001-2010), 15,000 people died from the disease.

Arizona and Arkansas also topped with firearm-related deaths, though according to the research it was discharged with undetermined intent. That seems like an odd way of classifying death from gun violence.

It seems it could only be accidental or with some form of intent. Be it in the course of law enforcement, self-defense or another act.

What about Texas? I’m sure some are surprised it is not leading the pack on firearm-related deaths, but it’s actually Tuberculosis.

Distinctive Causes of Death

What can we learn from the study? It’s not just an interesting map to show your friends. Look it over. You see public health challenges and cultural problems across the United States.

For me in Alabama? Gun culture is fine, but safety, safety and more safety. The second amendment doesn’t give you the right to not follow common-sense practices.

Texas is concerning with the rise of Tuberculosis. Antibiotic-resistant strains are already impacting hospitals. It’s time to start paying attention.

Other public health challenges face New York and Connecticut. Both states had inflammatory diseases of female pelvic organs as its number one. What does it mean on access to healthcare for women in both states?

Giving the mountain of data a visual component helps everyone understand the challenges we face as a nation. Now, let’s act on them.


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