Distinctive Deaths

Which weird way to die is the most common in Texas? Study has surprising answer

Which weird way to die is the most common in Texas?

Most distinctive deaths map
A new study has produced a map that indicates the "most distinctive" causes of death in each state. Courtesy of Francis Boscoe / LiveScience

Many people are familiar with the most common killers in the U.S.: heart disease and cancer. However, there are some less common causes of death that are actually more prevalent in certain states when compared nationally.

A new study has created a map that reveals these "most distinctive" causes of death for each state.

What's the "most distinctive" cause of death in Texas, you ask? The answer, surprisingly, is tuberculosis. 

Boscoe says the map is "a somewhat of a colorful and provocative way of starting some conversations and highlighting some unusual things that are going on." 

"Inflammatory diseases of female pelvic organs" is listed as the most distinctive cause of death in New York and "hyperplasia of prostate" in California. Other states have some especially unusual causes of death considered to be their most distinctive, such as "legal intervention" in New Mexico, "water, air and space transport accidents" in Alaska, and "accidental discharge of firearms" in Tennessee.

Study author Francis Boscoe, a research scientist at the New York State Cancer Registry, told LiveScience that the map is "a somewhat of a colorful and provocative way of starting some conversations and highlighting some unusual things that are going on."

To discover which less-common cause of death was the most prevalent in each state, researchers calculated the rate of death from each cause, then divided this by the rate of death from that particular cause in the United States as a whole. 

The type of death listed may not affect the same number of people in some states as in others. In some cases, the most distinctive cause of death was responsible for quite a large death toll, as is the case in Florida where the most distinctive cause of death is HIV and resulted in roughly 15,000 deaths.

In other cases, however, the most distinctive cause of death was still quite rare, such as the 22 deaths caused by syphilis in Louisiana.