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Oregon's Most Distinctive Cause Of Death

The trend of putting interesting information into state based maps can reveal all kinds of things, like what languagesbesides English are most frequently spoken or the fact that Oregonians listen to more Kurt Vile than people elsewhere. Now, a new study has revealed the distinctive causes of death in all 50 states. Oregon's most distinctive cause of death is legal intervention, which includes all deaths due to law enforcement actions, and incorporates deaths of civilians and law enforcement officers.

Francis Boscoe is the research scientist with the New York State Department of Health who came up with the idea of putting the kind of statistical data he deals with everyday into the kind of map that people share on social media. "I thought, oh it might be interesting to apply this to something more practical."

Boscoe's study ruled out the 10 most common causes of death, and looked instead for the greatest frequency of other deaths compared to the national average. “A map of the most common causes of death would only have two things on it. And that would be heart disease, and cancer.”

Between 2001 and 2010, 110 people died in Oregon through legal intervention. "The large majority of these are violent crimes or robberies in progress where a suspect is killed," says Boscoe.

“It’s still a rare cause of death...but nevertheless, if Oregon was a typical state you might expect only about a third that number.”

Washington state's most distinctive cause of death was Meningococcal infections, which was also the second most distinctive cause of death in Oregon.

Boscoe says his study has made waves in public health circles and "started a bunch of conversations in a lot of states about what possible public health actions could be done in some cases to change these numbers because some of these are treatable and preventable conditions."

Copyright 2015 Oregon Public Broadcasting