Because the research is still so new, it’s hard to say why people are more likely to die on their birthday, but it seems likely that it’s due to the stress of facing the fact that they have grown another year older, which for many is a time for looking over a lifetime and comparing time left with aspirations, goals and dreams. Such stress can of course lead to heart attacks, strokes and even in some cases accidents as those marking the passage of another year may attempt to do things to prove they are still as capable as when they were younger, things that can lead to an untimely death, e.g. sky diving, mountain climbing, etc. Bolstering this theory is the fact that in the study, the team found that dying on a birthday was most common for people over the age of 60.
The study, led by Vladeta Ajdacic-Gross, has led to a paper being published in the Annals of Epidemiology, in which the researchers say that they found their numbers by studying almost two and a half million deaths over the period 1969 to 2008. They say that people on average have an almost twenty percent more of a chance of dying on their birthday from cardiovascular disease, than any other day, and the number is slightly higher for strokes. Interestingly, they also found that there is even a slightly greater risk of dying (10.8) on that special day from cancer.
But the number that really stands out, of course, is the 34.9% greater chance of dying by suicide by men on their birthdays. A sobering statistic if ever there was one. Women on the other hand showed no statistical increase in suicides on their birthdays, which might indicate that women don’t take getting older so hard, or are more concerned about those they will be leaving behind.