Three Everyday Problems Which Are Bigger Threats Than The Coronavirus
In his widely-read book on protecting yourself from violence, “The Gift of Fear,” author Gavin de Becker describes how people focus on high-profile events and tune out day-to-day threats:
We all watched as bodies were carried away from the Oklahoma City bombing, and by the end of that week we learned to our horror that nineteen children had died in the blast. [Meanwhile,] seventy children died that same week at the hands of a parent, just like every week–and most of them were under five years old.
Our reaction to the spread of the coronavirus follows the same pattern. In our reacting to a high-profile issue, we lose sight of other problems that might be more destructive over the long term.
While I’m not suggesting that checking the spread of the coronavirus isn’t important, we shouldn’t forget that there are everyday dangers that might pose a bigger danger to your health and well-being. Here are a few to consider.
According to the World Health Organization, nearly 125 million people die worldwide in automobile accidents each year, or an average of 3,287 every day. Another 20 to 50 million are injured or disabled.
Not only that, there are many additional health costs to driving, including air pollution, chronic lower back or knee pain, anxiety, stress and elevated blood pressure levels.
Looked at another way, you are 24 times more likely to die in a car accident than skydiving.
All told, it’s hard to argue that driving a car is a dangerous exercise. Yes, you can lower your risk of being harmed by wearing a set belt, observing speed limits and particularly, not driving under the influence of drugs and alcohol.
Still, when it comes down to it, driving is quite risky. But how often do you see people in developed nations do without a car due to safety concerns? Virtually never. The truth is, car owners have agreed to accept the risks involved in hitting the road.
According to a new study, air pollution is a ‘silent’ pandemic, more dangerous to human life than war, violence and many diseases. However, we are doing too little to address the problem to reduce the number of such deaths.
Researchers have previously shown that air pollution led to an excess 8.8 million deaths in 2015, reducing global life expectancy by almost three years. In comparison, tobacco smoking reduced life expectancy but a third less and all known global violence lowered global life expectancy by just 0.3 years.
Among the key reasons air pollution is such a killer is that it taxes the human cardiovascular system, the effects of which are responsible for about 43% of the loss in total life expectancy.
“Air pollution causes damage to the blood vessels through increased oxidative stress, which then leads to increases in blood pressure, diabetes, stroke, heart attacks and heart failure,” notes physicist Jose Leliveld, who is with the Cyprus Institute in Nicosia.
Ultimately, if all human-generated emissions ended suddenly, we could avoid more than 5.5 million early deaths, increasing average life expectance by just over a year worldwide.
However, in many cases, we’re seeing the opposite trend emerge. For example, in 2017 and 2018, air pollution worsened in the United States after years of sustained improvements.
Mental health disorders
Mental health disorders are far more common than you might think. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, 46.6 million adults live with mental illness in the U.S., or roughly 18.9% of all adults.
What’s more, they cause a great deal of harm. Mental health conditions contribute to a wide range of illnesses, including heart disease and problems with drug and alcohol use. In addition, mental illness is a leading cause of disability, social isolation, legal and financial problems, family conflicts and decreased enjoyment of life.
Not only that, over 800.000 people kill themselves every year worldwide, with suicide the second leading cause of death in 15 to 29 year-olds.
While deaths from suicide have historically been more common in low- and middle-income countries, rates of suicide are climbing in the United States.
In 2017, there were 47,173 recorded suicides in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics. The annual U.S. suicide rate grew 24% between 1999 and 2014, from 10.5 to 13.0 suicides per 100,000 people, the highest rate recorded in 28 years.
The bottom line here is that while it’s easy to focus on threats that get a lot of media attention,it’s not the best way to protect yourself from harm. Instead, take a look at the threats right in front of you and you’re more likely to stay healthy.