I was just looking over some UK Government statistics for causes of death. A few interesting things jump out. The first thing is that males aged 15 to 34 are more likely to be the victim of homicide than any other group. However, “Suicide and injury/poisoning of undetermined intent” (the no 1 cause), road accidents, “mental and behavioural disorders due to psychoactive substance use” and accidental poisoning are all more likely causes of death.
Females of the same age group have the same percentage of deaths by homicide (but smaller numbers), but again death by “Suicide and injury/poisoning of undetermined intent” and road accidents are higher.
Once you get above that age group, homicide drops out of the top 10 and various health issues become much more likely causes of death. In the 35 to 54 male group the top 3 (in descending order) are heart disease, cirrhosis and other diseases of liver, and suicide and injury/poisoning of undetermined intent. In the 35 to 54 female group the top 3 are (in descending order) are breast cancer, cirrhosis and other diseases of liver and heart disease (suicide comes in at number 6).
For the higher age groups the top 10 is made up entirely of health issues (i.e. suicide, homicide and accidental poisoning not in top 10).
The fact that young males (who generally get into what would be avoidable situations much more readily than any other group) are the most likely to be killed is maybe not surprising. Neither is “poisoning of undetermined intent” or “mental and behavioural disorders due to psychoactive substance use” as younger groups are the most likely to overindulge in alcohol and take illicit substances.
One thing that is perhaps a little more surprising is that those younger groups are far more likely to kill themselves (unintentionally or intentionally) than be killed. Geoff Thompson has said many times that “self-defence begins with defence against the self” and this would seem to be particularly true for the under 35s.
There is obviously the behavioural issues relating to self-protection i.e. don’t put yourself in harm’s way and fight over ego or other inconsequential things (a propensity of the young hence the higher homicide figures). But it would seem other behaviours (drink, drugs, reckless driving, etc) are more likely to lead to death. Suicide is a complex issue, but it again shows young people are more likely to die by their own hand than by anyone else’s.
You could even ague that some, certainly not all, of the health issues experienced by the older age groups are also due to personal behaviour i.e. heart disease due to bad diet and lifestyle; liver disease due to heavy drinking, etc.
The inescapable bottom line though is that as we progress through life we are far more likely to be the causes of our own deaths than we are to be killed by someone else. Whether it be unnecessary risk or poor lifestyle, statistically we are all potetially “our own worst enemy”.
As well as watching out for the behaviour of others and ensuring they can’t harm us, it would seem there is much to be said for watching out for our own behaviours and intervening (or seeking help from others) before we can harm ourselves. After all, in the broadest view of “self-protection”, it would seem it is “yourself” that you could need most protecting from?
It also raises the interesting consideration that the health and positive lifestyle that martial arts can promote may be much more likely to save your life than physical self-protection and fighting skills?
The document I was looking at can be found below as it’s well worth a look through:
Interesting to ponder over!
All the best,