We received this question: How often do you see patterns in death? For instance, two celebrities died this week at age 69, both of cancer. Considering the last celebrity to die at age 69 was over two years ago, two in one week stands out. Do causes of death, ages, given names, etc. tend to cluster?
David Bowie and Alan Rickman both passed away this week. Eerily, both were 69 and both died of cancer. Here are my thoughts: Deaths can happen in a cluster. There is a pretty widespread superstition that bad things, like death, happen in three’s. Though I am not one to really subscribe to these beliefs, I have experienced the same concept in my line of work. There have been multiple occasions where things will be really quiet at the office (because no one seems to be dying,) then suddenly one day the coolers begin filling up. In May of last year I had three heroin overdoses in one week. That many heroin related deaths is extremely unusual. Three in one week certainly stood out and prompted me to call the DEA. I also see an increase in related deaths when the weather shifts. As soon things get a little nippier around here, we experience an uptick in deaths. (They are usually respiratory related. Things like lung cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, etc.) Then, of course, there is the whole theory on suicide and that happening at particular times, which I cover in Spoiler Alert: You’re Gonna Die. So, yes, my answer is that death can tend to cluster or follow a pattern. However, there is usually a reason or a cause for the increase. As far as David Bowie and Alan Rickman are concerned, I’d say their deaths were just a coincidence. An odd and unfortunate one, at that. Though, I guess if I’m being honest, there is always the possibility that maybe, just maybe, death does happen in three’s. And if that’s the case… who’s next?