By: Chris O'Shea
Being that they're highly personal milestones in our lives, it seems like everyone has a different opinion of birthdays. Despite the variety, the views can essentially be boiled down to positive or negative. Some people get very excited about them. They take the day off of work and celebrate the day with friends and family. Then there are those that see the day as something to be dreaded. In "The Fire," a classic episode of "Seinfeld," Jerry delivers a great monologue about how depressing the days can be. He explains that your first and your last birthday are basically the same thing, so it's not much to be excited about.
"Both birthday parties, people have to kinda help you blow out the candles, you can't do it...you don't even know why you're doing it," says Seinfeld. "'What is this ritual? What is going on?' It's also the only two birthday parties where other people have to gather your friends together for you. Sometimes they're not even your friends. They make the judgment. They bring 'em in, they sit 'em down, and they tell you — 'these are your friends! Tell them thank you for coming to my birthday party.'"
Seinfeld's perspective, while cynical, just got some scientific evidence behind it. According to data, you are more likely to die on your birthday than on any other day. Try getting past that little nugget the next time you get ready to blow out the candles.
The study, conducted by a team at the University of Zurich, took into account more than two million people over 40 years. What they found was the rate of suicides, heart attacks, falls, and strokes increased on the day we were born. Among the findings: A 35 percent jump in suicides, a 29 percent rise in "accidental deaths not related to cars" and a whopping 44 percent jump in deaths from falls. Heart attacks were also more frequent on your birthday, occurring about 18 percent more than any other day of the year. Also, the rate increases the older you get. The report says that people over 60 years old are 14 percent more likely to die on their birthdays.
One of the men in charge of the study, Doctor Vladeta Ajdacic-Gross of the University of Zurich, told The Telegraph quite bluntly, "Birthdays end lethally more frequently than might be expected." You don't say.
So why is this? Well, the experts aren't quite sure just yet. It could be that we're just getting older, so we're naturally a little reckless/fat. It could also be that we've been kind of waiting to end it all, and the birthday is as good a day as any other to do it. Whatever the reason, maybe it's time to change that "happy birthday" phrase to something more accurate. Like "Nice Knowing You Birthday."
[Pic via Flckr - Timothy Tsui]