New study identifies the distinctive cause of death in each of the 50 states

A new study based on data from the List of 133 Selected Causes of Death published by the National Center for Health Statistics and the Centers for Disease Control data from 2001 to 2010 has produced a color coded map of the United States that identifies the “distinctive cause of death”* in each of the 50 states. A distinctive cause of death is a cause of death within a state that exceeds the national average for that particular cause of death.

According to a report today at voanews,

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.


[Emphasis supplied]

Check out the distinctive cause of death in your state by consulting the map at voanews. You may be in for a big surprise.


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Frederick Leatherman

Frederick Leatherman

I am a former law professor and felony criminal defense lawyer who practiced in state and federal courts for 30 years specializing in death penalty cases, forensics, and drug cases.

I taught criminal law, criminal procedure, law and forensics, and trial advocacy for three years after retiring from my law practice.

I also co-founded Innocence Project Northwest (IPNW) at the University of Washington School of Law in Seattle and recruited 40 lawyers who agreed to work pro bono, assisted by law students, representing 17 innocent men and women wrongfully convicted of sexually abusing their children in the notorious Wenatchee Sex Ring witch-hunt prosecutions during the mid 90s. All 17 were freed from imprisonment.


  1. May 17, 2015 at 3:37 pm

    In Oregon, that’s called suicide by cop.

  2. ThingsComeUndone
    May 17, 2015 at 4:03 pm

    Maybe Oregon is just keeping better numbers Chicago alone must put Illinois past Oregon on that number.

  3. ThingsComeUndone
    May 17, 2015 at 4:05 pm

    Sort of on topic

    “84.125 years is the average billionaire life expectancy for 2014”


    United States 83.48”

    “As of 2014 despite Obamacare 25% or 1 in 4 Hispanics lack health insurance the highest rate of any group.”

  4. ThingsComeUndone
    May 17, 2015 at 4:07 pm

    What state will be the first to list Global Warming as a distinct cause of death? Floods, Hurricanes, Tornadoes, Drought, Wildfires I’m sure I’m missing a few causes but its happening in every state.

  5. ThingsComeUndone
    May 17, 2015 at 6:17 pm

    “Meanwhile, there were 22 deaths from syphilis, the most distinctive cause of death in Louisiana.” I heard the song “Cotton Eyed Joe ” is about a guy with syphilis if the guy was a slave owner that might explain how he got the girl he bought her he had to nobody else would go near him that and slave owners were likely to catch sexual diseases after all the sailors on the slave boats slept around at every port and likely had their way with any pretty slaves before being sold. Syphilis of the brain might help explain many Southern Politicians actions Gov Bobby Jindal and Senator Dipper Dave Vitter.

  6. Chris Maukonen
    May 17, 2015 at 6:19 pm

    I saw that Mason. HIV in Florida because there is heavy drug use. Especially in places like Tampa, Miami, Jax.

  7. Screwtape
    May 17, 2015 at 7:18 pm

    I have to take exception to global warming easily becoming the definitive cause of death for anyone.

    I just turned 68. From childhood I recall a lot of the oldsters died of “old age.” That was a polite, non-specific affliction for any victim in their 50s-60s+ It was something generic, thought natural, as long as non-violent, no questions asked.

    Over the years a lot of parsing has ensued over death. It has to do with medical advances, but also shedding taboos against discussing private medical specifics which used to be nearly unmentionable. It’s expected nowadays.

    So all I’m saying is that global warming is likely to get parsed down to specifics, just as old age did. The importance of global warming could get lost in the mix unless the public is often reminded of the causes and effects of the warming.

    Already some of the most difficult aspects get sidelined as too hot to handle — I’d offer controlling global population levels as one example. By the time we have our arms around all of it, it could be too late.

  8. May 17, 2015 at 8:18 pm

    Has the once informative FDL decided to commit seppuku with this sort of tepid fare? What happened to this site?!

  9. May 17, 2015 at 9:01 pm

    Under ACA, 1 in 4 insured Americans cannot afford healthcare…

    The vampire squid wins again.