The Truth About Dying Dumb-ly

(Last Updated On: December 10, 2018)
The cartoons from Tangerine Kitty's "Dumb Ways to Die"
The cartoons from Tangerine Kitty’s “Dumb Ways to Die”

As correctly observed by Tangerine Kitty in their November 2012 song and video, “Dumb Ways to Die,” there are indeed SO MANY dumb ways to die. (If you haven’t seen this Australian Metro video yet, stop what you’re doing and go watch it immediately.) The video depicts adorable cartoons engaging in such activities as inviting a psycho killer inside their house and playing catch with a nest of bees. While hilarious, one must pause and ponder: how often do people actually die in the way shown in the video as completely stupid? Here we’ve investigated several of the deaths in the song, and how they tend to go down in reality. Take heed before reading further, dear Sporcler, if you seek to maintain any faith in the human race.

Please do not mistake this rattler for a snugly pet
Please do not mistake this rattler for a snugly pet

Keeping a Rattlesnake as a Pet

Real Life Occurrences: A Google search for keeping a rattlesnake as a pet reveals a sad fact: people actually do this. Not professionals who have experience and have been trained to deal with rattlesnakes, just people who think it might be fun. In fact, there are enough people who want to keep these snakes as exotic pets that there are web articles entirely devoted to what you  need to know before buying one. A bit of the advice given to prospective rattlesnake owners: “Keep them in a securely locked cage.” (Really? If you need to be told this, then maybe you should reconsider…everything in your life.) “Check for the legality of keeping a rattlesnake as a pet in your area.” (How about we just assume that this is illegal?)

Deadliness Factor: Fortunately for those who choose to keep a rattlesnake as a pet, bites that lead to death are relatively rare. Rattlesnakes rank somewhere towards the middle of the pack in the world’s most lethal snakes.  The pain induced from such bites, however, as well as the general terror you would subject anyone in your house to should make you really think hard about whether or not this is an investment you need to make.

Poking a Grizzly Bear with a Stick

This bear is NOT YOUR FRIEND: don't share your picnic baskets
This bear is NOT YOUR FRIEND: don’t share your picnic baskets

Real Life Occurrences: Most people know actually poking a grizzly bear would be pretty dumb. Grizzly attacks have, however, been on the rise in recent years. It been hypothesized that this is due to deforestation or a growing bear population that almost has them off of the protected species list but leaves them looking for new places to roam. One particularly notable grizzly death was that of Grizzly Man, or Timothy Treadwell. Having lived with bears in Alaska periodically, he referred to himself as their “protector” from poachers and sport hunters, and photographed many of the bears he lived with. Rangers in the area where his and his girlfriend’s bodies were found said there have never been any poaching incidents on the land, which might lead one to wonder exactly why he was out there… But the devouring of Treadwell and his lady friend does illustrate a valuable lesson: bears are not your friends; bears will never be your friends; don’t think that just because you are an environmentalist that loves nature bears will like you. They honestly will not differentiate between you and a Texas oil tycoon if you get too close.

Deadliness Factor: In general, grizzly related deaths are avoidable provided you have the proper grizzly gear and a bit of common sense. Most important is bear spray: a kind of pepper spray that engulfs the bears head, causing it enough pain and confusion to give you time to get away. Bear spray is effective about 92% of the time–whereas guns  are only effective about 65% of the time. (Consider: when a bear is charging at you, do you think you’ll have perfect aim…if the park you’re in even allows guns?) Playing dead may get a bear to leave you alone after it has charged, but if the bear continues to attack, don’t just lie there. Fighting back with anything at hand would give you a better shot at survival. Basically, avoid bears. Don’t try and take their picture at the risk of your life, and remember: Bears≠Friends.


The now infamous Washington, D.C. metro
The now infamous Washington, D.C. metro

Fooling Around on Metro

Real Life Occurrences: Unfortunately, these are all too common. The video “Dumb Ways to Die” was created solely for the purpose of preventing Metro deaths and injuries, but Australian Metro is certainly not alone in its struggle for train safety. In 2009-10, Washington, D.C. experienced Metro deaths resulting from a wide variety of sources including collisions of train cars (killing eight), suicides, and just fooling around on the tracks. In New York City, 55 people died in 2012 after having fallen below trains. It’s such a frequent occurrence that NYC transit has policies to support the mental health of train operators after such incidents.

Deadliness Factor: If you fall in front of a high speed train, what might you imagine the deadliness factor to be? Seriously, around trains just don’t be stupid. Don’t make your train operator go through therapy to forget your grisly fall on the tracks.

In writing this, it occurred to your humble correspondent that rather than just being “dumb” ways to die, these are all exceedingly preventable ways to die. Nothing compels you to own a poisonous reptile or fool around near trains, so why would you? Next time you are considering setting fire to you hair, training a bear, or cutting across Metro tracks as a shortcut, listen to that little voice in your head that says, “Don’t!” It’s usually right.

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