Dying can be a messy business, but many of us are desensitized to the idea of gruesome, unpleasant deaths. That's because we're confronted with quite a few of them every week in the news. We usually just think about how unfortunate these untimely passings are, and then we keep it moving.
But some of us are curious about what it feels like to die. I mean, you can only read so many headlines about death by fire before you start wondering what that would feel like. Well, today's your lucky day. Here are nine common causes of death, and a glimpse into what each one of them feels like.
1. Falling to Your Death
Jumping to your death from a tall building is among the fastest ways to end your life. Most victims die within the first few seconds after impact. A nearly instant death is guaranteed if the person falling reaches 120 miles per hour before hitting the ground.
Those who have survived long falls report the sensation of time slowing down. The best way to survive is to attempt to land feet first. This forms a so-called "crumple zone" that will spread out the force of impact. Still...survival rates in this case are pretty low.
The first stage of drowning is called "surface struggle," during which victims thrash around near the surface in an attempt to escape their dire situation. But during this stage, victims cannot typically call for help. After they slip below the water's surface, they will try to hold their breath for as long as possible.
Eventually, they'll inhale some water while trying to breathe, which will trigger a coughing response and cause them to inhale even more water. Breathing in water causes the airway to close, and eventually, oxygen deprivation leads to death.
3. Lethal Injection
The average lethal injection is actually a cocktail of three drugs administered in a certain order. First, anaesthetic thiopental is injected to erase any pain the victim might be feeling. Next is pancuronium. This drug paralyzes the victim and stops their breathing. Finally, potassium chloride is administered to stop their heart. While the procedure is supposed to be painless, that might not always be the case.
According to those who have witnessed executions by lethal injection, many victims exhibit clear signs of distress throughout the entire process.
4. Death by Beheading
While beheading is generally considered to be the fastest death, it can still be unpleasant. Although it's never been confirmed in humans, rats have shown that the brain is still technically alive after being severed from the body.
A 1991 study found that it took the rats' brains an additional 2.7 seconds to consume the remaining oxygen in the head after being cut off. Among researchers, the speculation is that it would take a human head about seven seconds to do the same thing.
Death by electrocution almost always comes as a result of heart failure. This particular condition is called arrhythmia. The higher the voltage, the faster the death. After about 10 seconds, the victim will lose consciousness and death won't be far behind.
6. Bleeding to Death
Bleeding to death can be a very fast or a very slow process, depending on where you're injured. If the aorta is severed, you can bleed to death in a matter of seconds. But if smaller vessels are cut, bleeding out takes far longer. Of the five liters of blood in the average human body, it only takes the loss of one for severe issues to set in. At that stage, you would feel weak, thirsty, and extremely anxious. By the time you lose two liters of blood, your body will begin to shut down and you'll lose consciousness before dying.
7. Burning to Death
It's generally accepted that burning is one of the worst ways to die. The human body actually makes burns hurt more than they should by activating a rapid inflammatory response which makes the skin more sensitive. Thankfully, those who are killed by fire are normally killed by the toxic fumes long before the flames themselves take their toll.
Hanging used to be the execution method of choice. When a person is killed by hanging, one of two things happens. They either fall from a tall enough height that the force breaks their neck, or they're slowly strangled to death. The latter process can sometimes take up to 15 minutes.
9. Death by Explosive Decompression
Death by explosive decompression is very rare. In fact, there has only ever been one recorded incident of it. During a Soviet space mission in 1971, a seal on the craft failed during reentry. When the aircraft was recovered, all three crew members were dead. Decompression incidents usually happen at high altitudes.
A sudden drop in pressure will cause air in the lungs to expand, which tears lung tissue. Water in the body then begins to vaporize, and blood flow stops altogether. Those who survive explosive decompression incidents usually lose consciousness before they even know what's happening.
I think the worst one on this list is lethal injection. Sure, it might be the most humane method, but it's also the one that gives you the least power as a victim. I think I'll keep up my law-abiding ways, because that does not sound like a good way to go.