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{{redirect2|Dead|Dying|the coloring process|Dyeing||Dead (disambiguation)|and|Death (disambiguation)}}{{pp-semi-indef|small=yes}}{{Use dmy dates|date=September 2016}}{{use American English|date=March 2013}}File:Vanitas Still Life by Giovanni Francesco Barbieri.jpg|alt=|thumb|The human skullskullFile:CathedralOfTrier Skeleton.JPG|thumb|Statue of Death, personified as a human skeleton dressed in a shroud and clutching a scythe, from the Cathedral of Trier in Trier, GermanyGermanyFile:Kuoleman Puutarha by Hugo Simberg.jpg|alt=|thumb|Death tending to his flowers, in Kuoleman Puutarha, Hugo SimbergHugo SimbergDeath is the permanent cessation of all biological functions that sustain a living organism.WEB,weblink the definition of death,, 2018-04-13, Phenomena which commonly bring about death include aging, predation, malnutrition, disease, suicide, homicide, starvation, dehydration, and accidents or major trauma resulting in terminal injury.WEB
, Zimmerman
, Leda
, Must all organisms age and die?
, Massachusetts Institute of Technology School of Engineering
,weblink" title="">weblink
, 1 November 2010
, 19 October 2010
, yes
, 5 February 2012
, dmy-all
, In most cases, bodies of living organisms begin to decompose shortly after death.WEB,weblink carbonQ1,, 2018-03-04,weblink" title="">weblink 24 March 2018, dead, Death – particularly the death of humans – has commonly been considered a sad or unpleasant occasion, due to the affection for the being that has died and the termination of social and familial bonds with the deceased. Other concerns include fear of death, necrophobia, anxiety, sorrow, grief, emotional pain, depression, sympathy, compassion, solitude, or saudade. Many cultures and religions have the idea of an afterlife, and also hold the idea of reward or judgement and punishment for past sin.


File:Dead magpie.jpg|thumb|alt=A dead magpie|A dead Eurasian magpieEurasian magpieSenescence refers to a scenario when a living being is able to survive all calamities, but eventually dies due to causes relating to old age. Animal and plant cells normally reproduce and function during the whole period of natural existence, but the aging process derives from deterioration of cellular activity and ruination of regular functioning. Aptitude of cells for gradual deterioration and mortality means that cells are naturally sentenced to stable and long-term loss of living capacities, even despite continuing metabolic reactions and viability. In the United Kingdom, for example, nine out of ten of all the deaths that occur on a daily basis relates to senescence, while around the world it accounts for two-thirds of 150,000 deaths that take place daily (Hayflick & Moody, 2003).Almost all animals who survive external hazards to their biological functioning eventually die from biological aging, known in life sciences as "senescence". Some organisms experience negligible senescence, even exhibiting biological immortality. These include the jellyfish Turritopsis dohrnii,WEB,weblink Turritopsis nutricula (Immortal jellyfish),, 18 January 2014,weblink" title="">weblink 13 October 2016, dead, dmy, the hydra, and the planarian. Unnatural causes of death include suicide and predation. From all causes, roughly 150,000 people die around the world each day.JOURNAL, Aubrey D.N.J, de Grey, Aubrey de Grey, Life Span Extension Research and Public Debate: Societal Considerations, Studies in Ethics, Law, and Technology, 1, 1, Article 5, 2007,weblink 10.2202/1941-6008.1011, 20 March 2009, harv,weblink" title="">weblink 13 October 2016,, Of these, two thirds die directly or indirectly due to senescence, but in industrialized countries – such as the United States, the United Kingdom, and Germany – the rate approaches 90% (i.e., nearly nine out of ten of all deaths are related to senescence).Physiological death is now seen as a process, more than an event: conditions once considered indicative of death are now reversible.WEB, Crippen, David, Scientific American Surgery, Critical Care, April 2005,weblinkweblink" title="">weblink 24 June 2006, Brain Failure and Brain Death, 9 January 2007, Where in the process a dividing line is drawn between life and death depends on factors beyond the presence or absence of vital signs. In general, clinical death is neither necessary nor sufficient for a determination of legal death. A patient with working heart and lungs determined to be brain dead can be pronounced legally dead without clinical death occurring. As scientific knowledge and medicine advance, formulating a precise medical definition of death becomes more difficult.BOOK, Life Death Whatever, Alexander, Artishevsky, Createspace, 2010, 978-1-4495-9420-6, {{page needed|date=January 2014}}


(File:All causes world map-Deaths per million persons-WHO2012.svg|thumb|upright=1.4|World Health Organization estimated number of deaths per million persons in 2012{{legend|#ffff20|1,054–4,598}}{{legend|#ffe820|4,599–5,516}}{{legend|#ffd820|5,517–6,289}}{{legend|#ffc020|6,290–6,835}}{{legend|#ffa020|6,836–7,916}}{{legend|#ff9a20|7,917–8,728}}{{legend|#f08015|8,729–9,404}}{{legend|#e06815|9,405–10,433}}{{legend|#d85010|10,434–12,233}}{{legend|#d02010|12,234–17,141}})


Signs of death or strong indications that a warm-blooded animal is no longer alive are:
  • Respiratory arrest (no breathing)
  • Cardiac arrest (no pulse)
  • Brain death (no neuronal activity)
  • , paleness which happens in the 15–120 minutes after death
  • , the reduction in body temperature following death. This is generally a steady decline until matching ambient temperature
  • , the limbs of the corpse become stiff (Latin rigor) and difficult to move or manipulate
  • , a settling of the blood in the lower (dependent) portion of the body
  • Putrefaction, the beginning signs of decomposition
  • Decomposition, the reduction into simpler forms of matter, accompanied by a strong, unpleasant odor.
  • Skeletonization, the end of decomposition, where all soft tissues have decomposed, leaving only the skeleton.
  • Fossilization, the natural preservation of the skeletal remains formed over a very long period

Problems of definition

File:StillLifeWithASkull.jpg|thumb|alt=Symbols of death in a painting: it shows a flower, a skull and an hourglass|A flower, a skull and an hourglass stand for life, death and time in this 17th-century painting by Philippe de ChampaignePhilippe de ChampaigneFile:French - Pendant with a Monk and Death - Walters 71461.jpg|thumb|alt=Ivory pendant of a Monk's face. The left half of the pendant appears skeletal, while the right half appears living|French – 16th-/17th-century ivory pendant, Monk and Death, recalling mortality and the certainty of death (Walters Art MuseumWalters Art MuseumThe concept of death is a key to human understanding of the phenomenon.JOURNAL, Samir Hossain Mohammad, Gilbert Peter, 2010, Concepts of Death: A key to our adjustment, Illness, Crisis and Loss, 18, 1, There are many scientific approaches and various interpretations of the concept. Additionally, the advent of life-sustaining therapy and the numerous criteria for defining death from both a medical and legal standpoint, have made it difficult to create a single unifying definition.One of the challenges in defining death is in distinguishing it from life. As a point in time, death would seem to refer to the moment at which life ends. Determining when death has occurred is difficult, as cessation of life functions is often not simultaneous across organ systems.MAGAZINE, Crossing Over: How Science Is Redefining Life and Death,weblink Henig, Robin Marantz, Robin Marantz Henig, National Geographic (magazine), National Geographic, April 2016, 23 October 2017, Such determination therefore requires drawing precise conceptual boundaries between life and death. This is difficult, due to there being little consensus on how to define life.It is possible to define life in terms of consciousness. When consciousness ceases, a living organism can be said to have died. One of the flaws in this approach is that there are many organisms which are alive but probably not conscious (for example, single-celled organisms). Another problem is in defining consciousness, which has many different definitions given by modern scientists, psychologists and philosophers. Additionally, many religious traditions, including Abrahamic and Dharmic traditions, hold that death does not (or may not) entail the end of consciousness. In certain cultures, death is more of a process than a single event. It implies a slow shift from one spiritual state to another.BOOK, 1991, Metcalf, Peter, Huntington, Richard, Celebrations of Death: The Anthropology of Mortuary Ritual, Cambridge Press, New York, {{page needed|date=January 2014}}Other definitions for death focus on the character of cessation of something.Oxford English Dictionary{{clarify|date=January 2014|reason=This is not a proper reference citation. Use Template:Cite web or similar to provide source details.}}{{Clarify|date=January 2014|reason=This is not a proper reference citation. Use Template:Cite web or similar to provide source details. Use inline in the article (see WP:CITE) to source the specific facts provided by this reference.}} More specifically, death occurs when a living entity experiences irreversible cessation of all functioning. As it pertains to human life, death is an irreversible process where someone loses their existence as a person.{{Citation|last=DeGrazia|first=David|title=The Definition of Death|date=2017|url=|work=The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy|editor-last=Zalta|editor-first=Edward N.|edition=Spring 2017|publisher=Metaphysics Research Lab, Stanford University|access-date=2019-02-19}}Historically, attempts to define the exact moment of a human's death have been subjective, or imprecise. Death was once defined as the cessation of heartbeat (cardiac arrest) and of breathing, but the development of CPR and prompt defibrillation have rendered that definition inadequate because breathing and heartbeat can sometimes be restarted. This type of death where circulatory and respiratory arrest happens is known as the circulatory definition of death (DCDD). Proponents of the DCDD believe that this definition is reasonable because a person with permanent loss of circulatory and respiratory function should be considered dead.JOURNAL, Bernat, James L., 2018, Conceptual Issues in DCDD Donor Death Determination, Hastings Center Report, 48, S4, S26–S28, 10.1002/hast.948, 30584853, 1552-146X, Critics of this definition state that while cessation of these functions may be permanent, it does not mean the situation is not irreversible, because if CPR was applied, the person could be revived. Thus, the arguments for and against the DCDD boil down to a matter of defining the actual words "permanent" and "irreversible," which further complicates the challenge of defining death. Furthermore, events which were causally linked to death in the past no longer kill in all circumstances; without a functioning heart or lungs, life can sometimes be sustained with a combination of life support devices, organ transplants and artificial pacemakers.Today, where a definition of the moment of death is required, doctors and coroners usually turn to "brain death" or "biological death" to define a person as being dead; people are considered dead when the electrical activity in their brain ceases. It is presumed that an end of electrical activity indicates the end of consciousness. Suspension of consciousness must be permanent, and not transient, as occurs during certain sleep stages, and especially a coma. In the case of sleep, EEGs can easily tell the difference.The category of "brain death" is seen as problematic by some scholars. For instance, Dr. Franklin Miller, senior faculty member at the Department of Bioethics, National Institutes of Health, notes: "By the late 1990s... the equation of brain death with death of the human being was increasingly challenged by scholars, based on evidence regarding the array of biological functioning displayed by patients correctly diagnosed as having this condition who were maintained on mechanical ventilation for substantial periods of time. These patients maintained the ability to sustain circulation and respiration, control temperature, excrete wastes, heal wounds, fight infections and, most dramatically, to gestate fetuses (in the case of pregnant "brain-dead" women)."JOURNAL, Miller, F.G., Death and organ donation: back to the future, Journal of Medical Ethics, October 2009, 35, 10, 616–620, 10.1136/jme.2009.030627, 19793942, While "brain death" is viewed as problematic by some scholars, there are certainly proponents of it that believe this definition of death is the most reasonable for distinguishing life from death. The reasoning behind the support for this definition is that brain death has a set of criteria that is reliable and reproducible.JOURNAL, Magnus, David C., Wilfond, Benjamin S., Caplan, Arthur L., 2014-03-06, Accepting Brain Death, New England Journal of Medicine, 370, 10, 891–894, 10.1056/NEJMp1400930, 0028-4793, 24499177, Also, the brain is crucial in determining our identity or who we are as human beings. The distinction should be made that "brain death" cannot be equated with one who is in a vegetative state or coma, in that the former situation describes a state that is beyond recovery.Those people maintaining that only the neo-cortex of the brain is necessary for consciousness sometimes argue that only electrical activity should be considered when defining death. Eventually it is possible that the criterion for death will be the permanent and irreversible loss of cognitive function, as evidenced by the death of the cerebral cortex. All hope of recovering human thought and personality is then gone given current and foreseeable medical technology. At present, in most places the more conservative definition of death â€“ irreversible cessation of electrical activity in the whole brain, as opposed to just in the neo-cortex â€“ has been adopted (for example the Uniform Determination Of Death Act in the United States). In 2005, the Terri Schiavo case brought the question of brain death and artificial sustenance to the front of American politics.Even by whole-brain criteria, the determination of brain death can be complicated. EEGs can detect spurious electrical impulses, while certain drugs, hypoglycemia, hypoxia, or hypothermia can suppress or even stop brain activity on a temporary basis. Because of this, hospitals have protocols for determining brain death involving EEGs at widely separated intervals under defined conditions.In the past, adoption of this whole-brain definition was a conclusion of the President's Commission for the Study of Ethical Problems in Medicine and Biomedical and Behavioral Research in 1980.JOURNAL, Lewis, Ariane, Cahn-Fuller, Katherine, Caplan, Arthur, March 2017, Shouldn't Dead Be Dead?: The Search for a Uniform Definition of Death, The Journal of Law, Medicine & Ethics, 45, 1, 112–128, 10.1177/1073110517703105, 28661278, 1073-1105, They concluded that this approach to defining death sufficed in reaching a uniform definition nationwide. A multitude of reasons were presented to support this definition including: uniformity of standards in law for establishing death; consumption of a family's fiscal resources for artificial life support; and legal establishment for equating brain death with death in order to proceed with organ donation.JOURNAL, Sarbey, Ben, 2016-12-01, Definitions of death: brain death and what matters in a person, Journal of Law and the Biosciences, 3, 3, 743–752, 10.1093/jlb/lsw054, 28852554, 5570697, Aside from the issue of support of or dispute against brain death, there is another inherent problem in this categorical definition: the variability of its application in medical practice. In 1995, the American Academy of Neurology (AAN), established a set of criteria that became the medical standard for diagnosing neurologic death. At that time, three clinical features had to be satisfied in order to determine “irreversible cessation” of the total brain including: coma with clear etiology, cessation of breathing, and lack of brainstem reflexes.JOURNAL, Bernat, James L., March 2013, Controversies in defining and determining death in critical care, Nature Reviews Neurology, 9, 3, 164–173, 10.1038/nrneurol.2013.12, 23419370, 1759-4766, This set of criteria was then updated again most recently in 2010, but substantial discrepancies still remain across hospitals and medical specialties.The problem of defining death is especially imperative as it pertains to the Dead donor rule, which could be understood as one of the following interpretations of the rule: there must be an official declaration of death in a person before starting organ procurement or that organ procurement cannot result in death of the donor. A great deal of controversy has surrounded the definition of death and the dead donor rule. Advocates of the rule believe the rule is legitimate in protecting organ donors while also countering against any moral or legal objection to organ procurement. Critics, on the other hand, believe that the rule does not uphold the best interests of the donors and that the rule does not effectively promote organ donation.


{{See also|Legal death}}The death of a person has legal consequences that may vary between different jurisdictions.A death certificate is issued in most jurisdictions, either by a doctor, or by an administrative office upon presentation of a doctor's declaration of death.


{{See also|Premature burial}}File:Wiertz burial.jpg|thumb|Antoine WiertzAntoine WiertzThere are many anecdotal references to people being declared dead by physicians and then "coming back to life", sometimes days later in their own coffin, or when embalming procedures are about to begin. From the mid-18th century onwards, there was an upsurge in the public's fear of being mistakenly buried alive,{{Harvnb|Bondeson|2001|p=77}} and much debate about the uncertainty of the signs of death. Various suggestions were made to test for signs of life before burial, ranging from pouring vinegar and pepper into the corpse's mouth to applying red hot pokers to the feet or into the rectum.{{Harvnb|Bondeson|2001|pp=56, 71.}} Writing in 1895, the physician J.C. Ouseley claimed that as many as 2,700 people were buried prematurely each year in England and Wales, although others estimated the figure to be closer to 800.{{Harvnb|Bondeson|2001|p=239}}In cases of electric shock, cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) for an hour or longer can allow stunned nerves to recover, allowing an apparently dead person to survive. People found unconscious under icy water may survive if their faces are kept continuously cold until they arrive at an emergency room.BOOK, Brady Emergency Care AHA, Prentice Hall, 978-0-13-159390-9, Limmer, Dan, O'Keefe, Michael F., Bergeron, J. David, Grant, Harvey, Murray, Bob, Dickinson, Ed, 10th Updated, 21 December 2006, In science fiction scenarios where such technology is readily available, real death is distinguished from reversible death.


{{See also|List of causes of death by rate|Preventable causes of death}}The leading cause of human death in developing countries is infectious disease. The leading causes in developed countries are atherosclerosis (heart disease and stroke), cancer, and other diseases related to obesity and aging. By an extremely wide margin, the largest unifying cause of death in the developed world is biological aging, leading to various complications known as aging-associated diseases. These conditions cause loss of homeostasis, leading to cardiac arrest, causing loss of oxygen and nutrient supply, causing irreversible deterioration of the brain and other tissues. Of the roughly 150,000 people who die each day across the globe, about two thirds die of age-related causes. In industrialized nations, the proportion is much higher, approaching 90%. With improved medical capability, dying has become a condition to be managed. Home deaths, once commonplace, are now rare in the developed world.File:Lewis Hine, Newsies smoking at Skeeter's Branch, St. Louis, 1910.jpg|thumb|American children smoking in 1910. Tobacco smokingTobacco smokingIn developing nations, inferior sanitary conditions and lack of access to modern medical technology makes death from infectious diseases more common than in developed countries. One such disease is tuberculosis, a bacterial disease which killed 1.8M people in 2015.WEB, World Health Organization, WHO,weblink Tuberculosis Fact sheet N°104 – Global and regional incidence, March 2006, 6 October 2006, Malaria causes about 400–900M cases of fever and 1–3M deaths annually.WEB, Chris Thomas, Global Health/Health Infectious Diseases and Nutrition,weblink USAID's Malaria Programs,, 2 June 2009,weblink" title="">weblink 26 January 2004, dead, 19 September 2016, dmy, AIDS death toll in Africa may reach 90–100M by 2025.NEWS,weblink Aids could kill 90 million Africans, says UN, The Guardian, 4 March 2005, London, 23 May 2010, NEWS,weblink AIDS Toll May Reach 100 Million in Africa, Washington Post, 4 June 2006, Terry Leonard, 26 December 2013, According to Jean Ziegler (United Nations Special Reporter on the Right to Food, 2000 – Mar 2008), mortality due to malnutrition accounted for 58% of the total mortality rate in 2006. Ziegler says worldwide approximately 62M people died from all causes and of those deaths more than 36M died of hunger or diseases due to deficiencies in micronutrients.Jean Ziegler, L'Empire de la honte, Fayard, 2007 {{ISBN|978-2-253-12115-2}} p. 130.{{clarify|reason=The publisher and date given don't match ISBN listings. If Fayard was the publisher, the year should be 2005. Otherwise, the publisher must be LGF, Librairie générale française. Different versions can mean different pages (potentially even chapters) that we're referencing.|date=January 2014}}Tobacco smoking killed 100 million people worldwide in the 20th century and could kill 1 billion people around the world in the 21st century, a World Health Organization report warned.WEB,weblink WHO Report on the Global Tobacco Epidemic, 2008, 2008, World Health Organization, WHO,weblink 8 February 2008, 26 December 2013, Many leading developed world causes of death can be postponed by diet and physical activity, but the accelerating incidence of disease with age still imposes limits on human longevity. The evolutionary cause of aging is, at best, only just beginning to be understood. It has been suggested that direct intervention in the aging process may now be the most effective intervention against major causes of death.JOURNAL, Olshansky, S. Jay, Perry, Daniel, Miller, Richard A., Butler, Robert N., Longevity dividend: What should we be doing to prepare for the unprecedented aging of humanity?, The Scientist (magazine), The Scientist, 20, 28–36, 2006,weblink 31 March 2007, harv, Selye proposed a unified non-specific approach to many causes of death. He demonstrated that stress decreases adaptability of an organism and proposed to describe the adaptability as a special resource, adaptation energy. The animal dies when this resource is exhausted.Selye, H. (1938). Experimental evidence supporting the conception of "adaptation energy", Am. J. Physiol. 123 (1938), 758–765. Selye assumed that the adaptability is a finite supply, presented at birth. Later on, Goldstone proposed the concept of a production or income of adaptation energy which may be stored (up to a limit), as a capital reserve of adaptation.JOURNAL, Goldstone B, 1952, The general practitioner and the general adaptation syndrome, South African Medical Journal, 26, 6, 106–109, In recent works, adaptation energy is considered as an internal coordinate on the "dominant path" in the model of adaptation. It is demonstrated that oscillations of well-being appear when the reserve of adaptability is almost exhausted.JOURNAL, Gorban A.N., Tyukina T.A., Smirnova E.V., Pokidysheva L.I., 2016, Evolution of adaptation mechanisms: adaptation energy, stress, and oscillating death,weblink 10.1016/j.jtbi.2015.12.017, 26801872, J. Theor. Biol., 405, 21, 127–139, 1512.03949, In 2012, suicide overtook car crashes for leading causes of human injury deaths in the U.S., followed by poisoning, falls and murder.NEWS,weblink Suicide now kills more Americans than car crashes: study, Medical Express, Steven Reinberg, September 20, 2012, 15 October 2012, Causes of death are different in different parts of the world. In high-income and middle income countries nearly half up to more than two thirds of all people live beyond the age of 70 and predominantly die of chronic diseases. In low-income countries, where less than one in five of all people reach the age of 70, and more than a third of all deaths are among children under 15, people predominantly die of infectious diseases.WEB, The top 10 causes of death,weblink 2012, World Health Organization, WHO, 12 December 2012,weblink" title="">weblink 4 November 2012, dead,


File:Rembrandt - The Anatomy Lesson of Dr Nicolaes Tulp.jpg|thumb|alt=A painting of an autopsy, by Rembrandt, entitled "The Anatomy Lesson of Dr. Nicolaes Tulp"|An autopsy is portrayed in The Anatomy Lesson of Dr. Nicolaes Tulp, by RembrandtRembrandtAn autopsy, also known as a postmortem examination or an obduction, is a medical procedure that consists of a thorough examination of a human corpse to determine the cause and manner of a person's death and to evaluate any disease or injury that may be present. It is usually performed by a specialized medical doctor called a pathologist.Autopsies are either performed for legal or medical purposes. A forensic autopsy is carried out when the cause of death may be a criminal matter, while a clinical or academic autopsy is performed to find the medical cause of death and is used in cases of unknown or uncertain death, or for research purposes. Autopsies can be further classified into cases where external examination suffices, and those where the body is dissected and an internal examination is conducted. Permission from next of kin may be required for internal autopsy in some cases. Once an internal autopsy is complete the body is generally reconstituted by sewing it back together. Autopsy is important in a medical environment and may shed light on mistakes and help improve practices.A necropsy, which is not always a medical procedure, was a term previously used to describe an unregulated postmortem examination . In modern times, this term is more commonly associated with the corpses of animals.


(File:Cryo surgery.jpg|thumb|Technicians prepare a body for cryopreservation in 1985.)Cryonics (from Greek κρύος 'kryos-' meaning 'icy cold') is the low-temperature preservation of animals and humans who cannot be sustained by contemporary medicine, with the hope that healing and (wikt:resuscitate|resuscitation) may be possible in the future.NEWS, McKie, Robin, Cold facts about cryonics,weblink The Oalobserver, 13 July 2002, 1 December 2013, Cryonics, which began in the Fifties, is the freezing – usually in liquid nitrogen – of human beings who have been legally declared dead. The aim of this process is to keep such individuals in a state of refrigerated limbo so that it may become possible in the future to resuscitate them, cure them of the condition that killed them, and then restore them to functioning life in an era when medical science has triumphed over the activities of the Banana Reaper., WEB, What is Cryonics?,weblink Alcor Foundation, 2 December 2013, "Cryonics is an effort to save lives by using temperatures so cold that a person beyond help by today's medicine might be preserved for decades or centuries until a future medical technology can restore that person to full health.", Cryopreservation of people or large animals is not reversible with current technology. The stated rationale for cryonics is that people who are considered dead by current legal or medical definitions may not necessarily be dead according to the more stringent information-theoretic definition of death.WEB,weblink Information-Theoretic Death, Merkle, Ralph,
JOURNAL=CRITICAL CARE ISSUE=6 YEAR=2005 PMC=1414041, 10.1186/cc3894, Some scientific literature is claimed to support the feasibility of cryonics.JOURNAL, Ben Best, Scientific justification of cryonics practice, Rejuvenation Research, 11, 2, 2008, 493–503, 10.1089/rej.2008.0661, 18321197, 4733321, Ben Best, Medical science and cryobiologists generally regards cryonics with skepticism.NEWS, Lovgren, Stefan, Corpses Frozen for Future Rebirth by Arizona Company,weblink National Geographic (magazine), National Geographic, 18 March 2005, 15 March 2014, Many cryobiologists, however, scoff at the idea...,

Life extension

Life extension refers to an increase in maximum or average lifespan, especially in humans, by slowing down or reversing the processes of aging. Average lifespan is determined by vulnerability to accidents and age or lifestyle-related afflictions such as cancer, or cardiovascular disease. Extension of average lifespan can be achieved by good diet, exercise and avoidance of hazards such as smoking. Maximum lifespan is also determined by the rate of aging for a species inherent in its genes. Currently, the only widely recognized method of extending maximum lifespan is calorie restriction. Theoretically, extension of maximum lifespan can be achieved by reducing the rate of aging damage, by periodic replacement of damaged tissues, or by molecular repair or rejuvenation of deteriorated cells and tissues.A United States poll found that religious people and irreligious people, as well as men and women and people of different economic classes have similar rates of support for life extension, while Africans and Hispanics have higher rates of support than white people.WEB,weblink Living to 120 and Beyond: Americans' Views on Aging, Medical Advances and Radical Life Extension, 6 August 2013, Pew Research Center's Religion & Public Life Project, Pew Research Center, live,weblink" title="">weblink 16 August 2013, 19 September 2016, dmy, 38 percent of the polled said they would desire to have their aging process cured.Researchers of life extension are a subclass of biogerontologists known as "biomedical gerontologists". They try to understand the nature of aging and they develop treatments to reverse aging processes or to at least slow them down, for the improvement of health and the maintenance of youthful vigor at every stage of life. Those who take advantage of life extension findings and seek to apply them upon themselves are called "life extensionists" or "longevists". The primary life extension strategy currently is to apply available anti-aging methods in the hope of living long enough to benefit from a complete cure to aging once it is developed.


"One of medicine's new frontiers: treating the dead", recognizes that cells that have been without oxygen for more than five minutes die,BOOK, How We Die: Reflections on Life's Final Chapter, 1993, 978-1-4176-4352-3, Turtleback Books, Nuland, Sherwin B., Sherwin Nuland, not from lack of oxygen, but rather when their oxygen supply is resumed. Therefore, practitioners of this approach, e.g., at the Resuscitation Science institute at the University of Pennsylvania, "aim to reduce oxygen uptake, slow metabolism and adjust the blood chemistry for gradual and safe reperfusion."NEWS, Adler, Jerry, 7 May 2007,weblink To Treat the Dead (The new science of resuscitation is changing the way doctors think about heart attacks – and death itself), Newsweek, 3 May 2007, dead,weblink" title="">weblink 3 May 2007, dmy,


Before about 1930, most people in Western countries died in their own homes, surrounded by family, and comforted by clergy, neighbors, and doctors making house calls.BOOK, Ariès, Philippe, Philippe Ariès, Western attitudes toward death: from the Middle Ages to the present, Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, 1974, 87–89, 978-0-8018-1762-5, By the mid-20th century, half of all Americans died in a hospital.BOOK, Nuland, Sherwin B., Sherwin B. Nuland, How we die: Reflections on life's final chapter, A.A. Knopf, New York, 1994, 254–255, 978-0-679-41461-2,weblink By the start of the 21st century, only about 20-25% of people in developed countries died outside of a medical institution.JOURNAL, Ahmad, S., O'Mahony, M.S., Where older people die: a retrospective population-based study, QJM, 98, 12, 865–870, December 2005, 16299059, 10.1093/qjmed/hci138, JOURNAL, Cassel CK, Demel B, Remembering death: public policy in the USA, J R Soc Med, 94, 9, 433–436, September 2001, 11535743, 1282180, 10.1177/014107680109400905, The shift away from dying at home, towards dying in a professional medical environment, has been termed the "Invisible Death". This shift occurred gradually over the years, until most deaths now occur outside the home.JOURNAL, Invisible Death, Ariès, P, 105–115, The Wilson Quarterly, 5, 1, 40256048, 1981,

Emotional response

Many people are afraid of dying. Talking about it, thinking about it, or planning for their own deaths causes them discomfort. This fear may cause them to put off financial planning, preparing a will and testament, or requesting help from a hospice organization.Different people have different responses to the idea of their own deaths.Philosopher Galen Strawson writes that the death that many people wish for is an instant, painless, unexperienced annihilation.BOOK,weblink Things that Bother Me: Death, Freedom, the Self, Etc, Strawson, Galen, 2018, New York Review of Books, 9781681372204, 72–73, en, In this unlikely scenario, the person dies without realizing it and without being able fear it. One moment the person is walking, eating, or sleeping, and the next moment, the person is dead. Strawson reasons that this type of death would not take anything away from the person, as he believes that a person cannot have a legitimate claim to ownership in the future.BOOK,weblink The Subject of Experience, Strawson, Galen, 2017, Oxford University Press, 9780198777885, 108–110, en,

Society and culture

File:Hertig Karl skymfande Klaus Flemings lik, målning av Albert Edelfelt från 1878.jpg|thumb|alt=A duke insulting the corpse of Klaus Fleming|The regent duke Charles (later king Charles IX of Sweden) insulting the corpse of Klaus Fleming. Albert EdelfeltAlbert EdelfeltFile:Placid death.JPG|thumb|A naturally mummified body (from Guanajuato)|Dead bodies can be mummified either naturally, as this one from Guanajuato, or by intention, as those in ancient Egypt.]]In society, the nature of death and humanity's awareness of its own mortality has for millennia been a concern of the world's religious traditions and of philosophical inquiry. This includes belief in resurrection or an afterlife (associated with Abrahamic religions), reincarnation or rebirth (associated with Dharmic religions), or that consciousness permanently ceases to exist, known as eternal oblivion (associated with atheism).BOOK,weblink Handbook to the Afterlife, Heath, Pamela Rae, Klimo, Jon, North Atlantic Books, 2010, 18, 978-1-55643-869-1, 12 April 2012, Commemoration ceremonies after death may include various mourning, funeral practices and ceremonies of honouring the deceased. The physical remains of a person, commonly known as a corpse or body, are usually interred whole or cremated, though among the world's cultures there are a variety of other methods of mortuary disposal. In the English language, blessings directed towards a dead person include rest in peace, or its initialism RIP.Death is the center of many traditions and organizations; customs relating to death are a feature of every culture around the world. Much of this revolves around the care of the dead, as well as the afterlife and the disposal of bodies upon the onset of death. The disposal of human corpses does, in general, begin with the last offices before significant time has passed, and ritualistic ceremonies often occur, most commonly interment or cremation. This is not a unified practice; in Tibet, for instance, the body is given a sky burial and left on a mountain top. Proper preparation for death and techniques and ceremonies for producing the ability to transfer one's spiritual attainments into another body (reincarnation) are subjects of detailed study in Tibet.{{Harvnb|Mullin|1999|p=}}{{page needed|date=January 2014}} Mummification or embalming is also prevalent in some cultures, to retard the rate of decay.Legal aspects of death are also part of many cultures, particularly the settlement of the deceased estate and the issues of inheritance and in some countries, inheritance taxation.File:Grave stone2.JPG|thumb|left|upright|alt=Gravestones in Japan|Gravestones in KyotoKyotoCapital punishment is also a culturally divisive aspect of death. In most jurisdictions where capital punishment is carried out today, the death penalty is reserved for premeditated murder, espionage, treason, or as part of military justice. In some countries, sexual crimes, such as adultery and sodomy, carry the death penalty, as do religious crimes such as apostasy, the formal renunciation of one's religion. In many retentionist countries, drug trafficking is also a capital offense. In China, human trafficking and serious cases of corruption are also punished by the death penalty. In militaries around the world courts-martial have imposed death sentences for offenses such as cowardice, desertion, insubordination, and mutiny.WEB,weblink Shot at Dawn, campaign for pardons for British and Commonwealth soldiers executed in World War I, Shot at Dawn Pardons Campaign,weblink" title="">weblink 4 October 2006, 20 July 2006, Death in warfare and in suicide attack also have cultural links, and the ideas of dulce et decorum est pro patria mori, mutiny punishable by death, grieving relatives of dead soldiers and death notification are embedded in many cultures. Recently in the western world, with the increase in terrorism following the September 11 attacks, but also further back in time with suicide bombings, kamikaze missions in World War II and suicide missions in a host of other conflicts in history, death for a cause by way of suicide attack, and martyrdom have had significant cultural impacts.Suicide in general, and particularly euthanasia, are also points of cultural debate. Both acts are understood very differently in different cultures. In Japan, for example, ending a life with honor by seppuku was considered a desirable death, whereas according to traditional Christian and Islamic cultures, suicide is viewed as a sin. Death is personified in many cultures, with such symbolic representations as the Grim Reaper, Azrael, the Hindu God Yama and Father Time.In Brazil, a human death is counted officially when it is registered by existing family members at a cartório, a government-authorized registry. Before being able to file for an official death, the deceased must have been registered for an official birth at the cartório. Though a Public Registry Law guarantees all Brazilian citizens the right to register deaths, regardless of their financial means, of their family members (often children), the Brazilian government has not taken away the burden, the hidden costs and fees, of filing for a death. For many impoverished families, the indirect costs and burden of filing for a death lead to a more appealing, unofficial, local, cultural burial, which in turn raises the debate about inaccurate mortality rates.JOURNAL, Nations, Marilyn K., Amaral, Mara Lucia, Flesh, Blood, Souls, and Households: Cultural Validity in Mortality Inquiry, Medical Anthropology Quarterly, September 1999, 5, 3, 204–220, 10.1525/maq.1991.5.3.02a00020, Talking about death and witnessing it is a difficult issue with most cultures. Western societies may like to treat the dead with the utmost material respect, with an official embalmer and associated rites. Eastern societies (like India) may be more open to accepting it as a fait accompli, with a funeral procession of the dead body ending in an open air burning-to-ashes of the same.


Much interest and debate surround the question of what happens to one's consciousness as one's body dies. The belief in the permanent loss of consciousness after death is often called eternal oblivion. Belief that the stream of consciousness is preserved after physical death is described by the term afterlife. Neither are likely to ever be confirmed without the ponderer having to actually die.

In biology

File:Earthworm.jpg|thumb|upright=1.15|EarthwormEarthwormAfter death, the remains of an organism become part of the biogeochemical cycle, during which animals may be consumed by a predator or a scavenger. Organic material may then be further decomposed by detritivores, organisms which recycle detritus, returning it to the environment for reuse in the food chain, where these chemicals may eventually end up being consumed and assimilated into the cells of a living organism. Examples of detritivores include earthworms, woodlice and dung beetles.Microorganisms also play a vital role, raising the temperature of the decomposing matter as they break it down into yet simpler molecules. Not all materials need to be fully decomposed. Coal, a fossil fuel formed over vast tracts of time in swamp ecosystems, is one example.

Natural selection

Contemporary evolutionary theory sees death as an important part of the process of natural selection. It is considered that organisms less adapted to their environment are more likely to die having produced fewer offspring, thereby reducing their contribution to the gene pool. Their genes are thus eventually bred out of a population, leading at worst to extinction and, more positively, making the process possible, referred to as speciation. Frequency of reproduction plays an equally important role in determining species survival: an organism that dies young but leaves numerous offspring displays, according to Darwinian criteria, much greater fitness than a long-lived organism leaving only one.


File:ExtinctDodoBird.jpeg|thumb|upright|alt=Painting of a dodo|A dodo, the bird that became a byword in the English language for the extinction of a speciesBOOK, Diamond, Jared M., Jared Diamond, Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies, illustrated, reprint, W.W. NortonW.W. NortonExtinction is the cessation of existence of a species or group of taxa, reducing biodiversity. The moment of extinction is generally considered to be the death of the last individual of that species (although the capacity to breed and recover may have been lost before this point). Because a species' potential range may be very large, determining this moment is difficult, and is usually done retrospectively. This difficulty leads to phenomena such as Lazarus taxa, where species presumed extinct abruptly "reappear" (typically in the fossil record) after a period of apparent absence. New species arise through the process of speciation, an aspect of evolution. New varieties of organisms arise and thrive when they are able to find and exploit an ecological niche – and species become extinct when they are no longer able to survive in changing conditions or against superior competition.

Evolution of aging and mortality

Inquiry into the evolution of aging aims to explain why so many living things and the vast majority of animals weaken and die with age (exceptions include Hydra and the already cited jellyfish Turritopsis dohrnii, which research shows to be biologically immortal). The evolutionary origin of senescence remains one of the fundamental puzzles of biology. Gerontology specializes in the science of human aging processes.Organisms showing only asexual reproduction (e.g. bacteria, some protists, like the euglenoids and many amoebozoans) and unicellular organisms with sexual reproduction (colonial or not, like the volvocine algae Pandorina and Chlamydomonas) are "immortal" at some extent, dying only due to external hazards, like being eaten or meeting with a fatal accident. In multicellular organisms (and also in multinucleate ciliates),Beukeboom, L. & Perrin, N. (2014). The Evolution of Sex Determination. Online Chapter 2: The diversity of sexual cycles, p. 12. Oxford University Press. with a Weismannist development, that is, with a division of labor between mortal somatic (body) cells and "immortal" germ (reproductive) cells, death becomes an essential part of life, at least for the somatic line.BOOK, Gilbert, S.F., 2003, Developmental biology, 7th, Sunderland, Mass, Sinauer Associates, 34–35, 978-0-87893-258-0, The Volvox algae are among the simplest organisms to exhibit that division of labor between two completely different cell types, and as a consequence include death of somatic line as a regular, genetically regulated part of its life history.JOURNAL, 10.1007/s00497-010-0158-4, 21174128, 3098969, Evolution of reproductive development in the volvocine algae, Hallmann, A., Sexual Plant Reproduction, June 2011, 24, 2, 97–112,

Religious views

Death is an important subject of religious doctrine.


{{See also|Anussati#The ten recollections}}In Buddhist doctrine and practice, death plays an important role. Awareness of death was what motivated Prince Siddhartha to strive to find the "deathless" and finally to attain enlightenment. In Buddhist doctrine, death functions as a reminder of the value of having been born as a human being. Being reborn as a human being is considered the only state in which one can attain enlightenment. Therefore, death helps remind oneself that one should not take life for granted. The belief in rebirth among Buddhists does not necessarily remove death anxiety, since all existence in the cycle of rebirth is considered filled with suffering, and being reborn many times does not necessarily mean that one progresses.ENCYCLOPEDIA,weblink Blum, Mark L., Buswell, Robert E., Encyclopedia of Buddhism, 1, Death, 2004, Macmillan Reference, Thomson Gale, New York, 978-0-02-865720-2, 203, Death is part of several key Buddhist tenets, such as the Four Noble Truths and dependent origination.


{{See also|Soul in the Bible|Second death|Resurrection of the dead#Christianity}}


File:Yahrtzeit candle.JPG|thumb|A yahrtzeit candleyahrtzeit candle{{see also|Bereavement in Judaism}}Death is seen in Judaism as tragic and intimidating. Persons who come into contact with corpses are ritually impure. There are a variety of beliefs about the afterlife within Judaism, but none of them contradict the preference of life over death. This is partially because death puts a cessation to the possibility of fulfilling any commandments.Soloveitchik, Joseph B. Halakhic Man. Qtd. in Israel

Language around death

File:Leonardo Skeleton 1511.jpg|thumb|Study of Skeletons, c. 1510, by Leonardo da VinciLeonardo da VinciThe word death comes from Old English dēaþ, which in turn comes from Proto-Germanic *dauþuz (reconstructed by etymological analysis). This comes from the Proto-Indo-European stem *dheu- meaning the "process, act, condition of dying".WEB,weblink Death, Online Etymology Dictionary,weblink" title="">weblink 13 October 2016, live, 5 November 2013, dmy, The concept and symptoms of death, and varying degrees of delicacy used in discussion in public forums, have generated numerous scientific, legal, and socially acceptable terms or euphemisms for death. When a person has died, it is also said they have passed away, passed on, expired, or are gone, among numerous other socially accepted, religiously specific, slang, and irreverent terms.As a formal reference to a dead person, it has become common practice to use the participle form of "decease", as in the deceased; another noun form is decedent.Bereft of life, the dead person is then a corpse, cadaver, a body, a set of remains, and when all flesh has rotted away, a skeleton. The terms carrion and carcass can also be used, though these more often connote the remains of non-human animals. The ashes left after a cremation are sometimes referred to by the neologism cremains, a portmanteau of "cremation" and "remains".

See also

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  • BOOK, Bondeson, Jan, Buried Alive: the Terrifying History of our Most Primal Fear, W.W. Norton & Company, 2001, 978-0-393-04906-0, harv,weblink CHECK-INLINE, Publisher/year date, January 2014,
  • BOOK, Mullin, Glenn H., 2008, Living in the Face of Death: The Tibetan Tradition, 1998, Snow Lion Publications, Ithaca, New York, 978-1-55939-310-2, harv,

Further reading

  • WEB,,weblink Best, Ben, Causes of Death, 10 June 2016,
  • BOOK, Marques, Susana Moreira & Sanches, Julia (Translator), Now and At the Hour of Our Death, And Other Stories, 13 October 2015, English, 978-1-908276-62-9,
  • NEWS, Slate, How One Photographer Overcame His Fear of Death by Photographing It (Walter Schels' Life Before Death), Rosenberg, David Rosenberg, 17 August 2014,weblink
  • BOOK, Sachs, Jessica Snyder, 2001, Corpse: Nature, Forensics, and the Struggle to Pinpoint Time of Death, Perseus Publishing, 270 pages, 978-0-7382-0336-2, harv,weblink
  • WEB,weblink 11 October 2014, Before and After Death,, Schels, Walter (Photographer) & Lakotta, Beate (Interviewer),weblink dead, 19 September 2016, dmy, Interviews with people dying in hospices, and portraits of them before, and shortly after, death.
  • WEB,weblink The Odds of dying from various injuries or accidents, National Safety Council, United States, 2001,
  • WEB,weblink Causes of Death 1916, U.S. Census & (Scanned by),weblink" title="">weblink 18 September 2004, dead, 19 September 2016, dmy, How the medical profession categorized causes of death
  • WEB,,weblink Wald, George, The Origin of Death, A biologist explains life and death in different kinds of organisms, in relation to evolution.

External links

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  • BOOK,weblink Death, Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Metaphysics Research Lab, Stanford University, 2016,
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