The number of deaths worldwide in 2015 was approximately 57 million, representing 0.78 percent of the world’s population of 7.3 billion. In comparison, 140 million births occurred in 2015, resulting in a global population increase of 83 million people. According to reports, the major causes of death worldwide are ischemic heart disease, stroke, lower respiratory infections and chronic obstructive lung disease. Two-thirds of all deaths are due to non-communicable diseases, in particular cardiovascular diseases, cancers, diabetes and chronic lung diseases. As has been the case throughout recent years, cardiovascular diseases are the number one cause of death in the world, accounting for nearly one-third of all deaths.
Major causes of death also vary considerably by socio-economic conditions. The top four causes of death in low-income countries in 2012 were lower respiratory infections, HIV/AIDs, diarrheal diseases and stroke. In high-income countries, in contrast, the top four killers were ischemic heart disease, stroke, trachea bronchus/lung cancers, and Alzheimer’s and other dementia
The critical behavioral risk factors for heart disease, stroke and lung diseases are unhealthy diet, physical inactivity, excessive alcohol consumption and tobacco usage. The use of tobacco, in particular smoking, is responsible for the death of about 1 in 10 adults worldwide. Communicable diseases together with maternal, neonatal and nutrition conditions account for close to one-quarter of all deaths. The deadly infectious diseases include lower respiratory infections, HIV/AIDS, diarrheal diseases, malaria and tuberculosis.
While progress has been achieved in reducing maternal deaths, maternal mortality rates continue to be high. Nearly 830 women die daily due to complications of pregnancy and childbirth. For children under age 5, the major causes of death are prematurity, pneumonia, birth asphyxia and birth trauma, and diarrheal diseases. In 2012 approximately 4 in 10 deaths of children under age 5 years took place within 28 days of birth, with prematurity responsible for 35 percent of those deaths.
Injuries are responsible for nearly one-tenth of all deaths. Road traffic injuries in particular take approximately 3,500 lives each day, placing it among the ten leading causes of death. Among people aged 15 to 29 years the major cause of death is road traffic injuries. And approximately 75 percent of all road traffic deaths are among males. One of the most important risk factors in road traffic fatalities is alcohol consumption. Child mortality under age 5 years claims 0.26 percent of all deaths and the chances of a Japanese child not reaching age 5 is about 1 in 333.
Suicide, another important cause of death, was responsible for over 800,000 deaths in 2012 or about 1.4 percent of all deaths worldwide. Due to religious, social and legal pressures, the incidence of suicide tends to be under-reported or not reported at all in some cases.
In 2012 three-fourths of all reported suicides took place in low- and middle-income countries. The most suicide-prone countries were Guyana, North Korea, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Lithuania, Suriname and Mozambique.
The number of deaths in war and civil conflict account for approximately 0.3 percent of all deaths globally. The body count from the top twenty deadliest wars in 2014, according to the Project for the Study of the 21st Century, was 164 thousand. The four deadliest conflicts in 2014 were Syria (76 thousand), Iraq (21 thousand), Afghanistan (15 thousand) and Nigeria (12 thousand). Those and other conflicts experienced significant increases in casualties over the previous year.
Finally, as death is the inevitable outcome for everyone, the issue of the preferred or best ways to die often arises. People typically report that they prefer to die peacefully at an old age, at home in bed. Most wish to avoid a painful, lengthy and burdensome end of life.