Content warning: Suicide
There are 365 days in a year (and obviously 366 in a leap year), which means we’re spoilt for choice when it comes to finding a date to die on. Kidding, we can’t exactly choose the date we die on – although that would sometimes prove convenient if you have a wedding, celebration or important event (that you don’t want to miss) coming up.
So why do some people die on their birthday when the phenomenon feels kinda… rare? In this guide, we’ll dive into the symbolism behind this phenomenon to (hopefully) help put your mind at ease.
Is there a name for dying on your birthday?
It sounds spooky, but ‘birthday-perisher’ has actually been coined as the official term for someone who has died on their birthday. While the term states what has happened – and is generally used in professional environments when discussing someone dying on their birthday – we don’t exactly love it. Do you?
What’s the symbolism behind dying on your birthday?
Whether you’re Jewish or not, you’ll likely take comfort in learning that the Talmud (the central text of Rabbinic Judaism) says that dying on your birthday is considered special and ‘perfect’. It’s believed that Moses died on his 120th birthday (pretty old, we know) and that his life was complete because it started and ended on the same day – like a perfect circle. The Jewish people believe that dying on your birthday means you have achieved the mission you were born to achieve, and that’s something worth celebrating.
Is there a higher chance I’ll die on my birthday?
Um, not really. There’s a 1 in 365 (or 366) chance you’ll die on your birthday, so your chances are likely quite slim. However, a few studies do suggest that you’re more likely to die on your birthday than on any other day of the year – which makes sense, but also kinda doesn’t, considering many of us know very few people who have actually died on their birthday.
Here are a couple of theories we found interesting:
The Birthday Blues
Ever felt a little sad or stressed in the lead up to your birthday? You’re not alone. Turns out, many of us feel those birthday blues every year, and for those who are already struggling with mental illness or a physical illness, the onset of these blues can prompt death and, occasionally, suicide.
A Hungarian study conducted in 2015 analysed birthday blues in relation to suicides. It found that men of all ages had a higher suicide rate on their birthdays than on any other day of the year. The same was true for women aged 60+.
The Birthday Effect
This is another interesting theory. It states that statistics show a person has a higher chance of dying when their birthday is approaching. Here are some of those stats:
According to Swiss research
You are 14% more likely to die on your birthday than on any other day of the year if you are aged 60+. 2.5 million deaths were analysed when calculating this data, with 900 of those people dying on their birthday; the equivalent of 1 in 2,800 chance of dying on your birthday. Still pretty slim, in our opinion.
According to US research
You are 7% more likely to die on your birthday than on any other day of the year. This study examined 25 million deaths, and it found that younger people aged 29 and younger have a higher birthday death rate compared to older age groups. This contradicts the Swiss research above, so we really aren’t too sure which to believe (or if either are even accurate at all).
While yes, there is some evidence that you’re more likely to die on or around your birthday, the jury is still out on whether any of the evidence is actually true, or if your death-date is just pure luck (or un-luck). In the case of your death before your ‘ideal’ date, it’s important to ensure your affairs are in order so your assets can be distributed (and liabilities can be looked after) according to your wishes. While we like to think we’ll know when we’re about to die, chances are? We won’t. Start writing your Will online today – it’s the best way to prepare for the inevitable, whether it happens on your birthday or on one of the other 364 days of the year.
If this guide has brought up anything for you, you can contact Lifeline 24/7 on 13 11 14.