The next time your fear of flying stops you from going on that epic holiday, you can rest easy knowing you’re more likely to die from tripping over your own feet than in an aeroplane accident. 

The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) just released the 2021 Underlying Causes of Death statistics, and not only are the results fascinating, they might help you work through your fears - or introduce you to things you didn’t know you should be scared of!

There were 171,469 registered deaths in Australia in 2021, which is an increase of 10,169 from 2020, although it’s important to note the number of deaths was severely decreased in 2020 due to numerous lockdowns.

In every age group from 0-84 years of age, there were more male deaths than female deaths. This changes in the years 85 and onwards, where more female deaths were recorded. 

The 5 leading causes of death stayed the same from 2020 to 2021, which were: 

  • Ischaemic heart diseases - damage or disease in the heart’s major blood vessels.
  • Dementia, including alzheimers.
  • Cerebrovascular diseases - conditions that affect blood flow in the brain.
  • Malignant neoplasm of trachea, bronchus and lung - lung cancer
  • Chronic lower respiratory diseases - includes asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and many more. 

Suicide was the 15th leading cause of death. 

1,122 people died from COVID-19 in 2021 (660 men, 462 women) and 15 people died from COVID-19 vaccines causing adverse effects (6 men, 9 women).

Only 2 people died from the flu (influenza) last year. 

Now let’s get into the weird, unusual and interesting causes of death.

You are nine times more likely to die from iron deficiency anaemia (13 men, 36 women, 47 total) than from contact with venomous animals or plants (3 men, 2 women, 5 total). And for those with a fear of spiders, don’t worry, 0 people actually died from contact with venomous spiders in Australia last year.

Interestingly, men are over three times more likely to die from transport accidents than women, (1,043 men, 303 women, 1,346 total).

Within that, 168 people died from being a pedestrian injured in a transport accident (117 men, 51 women.

Continuing the trend of men being more likely to die from risky behaviour compared to women, 3 men died from falling out of a tree, 5 men died from a mammal (dogs not included) and 21 men died from falling out of a moving boat and drowning. 

You are four times more likely to die from a dog bite than being struck by lightning. Although the risk of either of these happening is extremely low; 4 people died from a dog bite (2 men, 2 women) and only 1 person died from being struck by lightning (1 man).

1 woman died from fainting, 2 women died from contact with hot tap water and 4 men died from contact with hot heating appliances, radiators or pipes. 

You can access the full causes of death data on the ABS website.