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The Irony of Dying on Your Birthday

This is a bit of a mini post. I could have just typed this up on Facebook, but I figured if it was something that was worth typing up in any length, I might as well make it a post.

Bukowski drinking

I research a lot of stuff for a lot of different reasons. I ghostwrite and then once I pay the rent, I write for myself. I research when Kansas went dry the first time or town names that exist in more than one state, but not the one I’m writing in. I look up what drag queens call each other when they look like a girly girl or when they look rough. I look up who was the governor of Kentucky in the 1950’s. All sorts of random facts.

Today, I was looking up the days people are most likely to die. Holidays come up a lot for reasons of depression as people probably expect. Holidays with fireworks come up too.

Happy New Year

The one that is tougher to explain is that people are more likely to die on their birthday. There are a wide range of reasons. Depression and self harm are one set of reasons. There are surface factors. You are more likely to go out somewhere on your birthday than other days. You are more likely to try exotic foods. You are more likely to go places you do not know. You are more likely to travel to exotic locations. You are more likely to stand on a table. You are more likely to be standing on a chair hanging something above your head. You are likely to race out at the last minute because you are running late or you forgot something. You are likely to drink more heavily than normal or even compared to other times you drink heavily. You are more likely to be around others drinking heavily. Your friends and family are more likely to play an elaborate prank on you. You are more likely to hit your head. You are more likely to get into a fight. You are more likely to bungee jump, skydive, or zipline. You are more likely to ride a motorcycle on your birthday. You are more likely to swim at night. You are more likely to drive somewhere secluded. You are more likely to lie about where you are going. People get up and start running on their birthday or they climb up on top of something high on their birthday to take a picture. You’re more likely to turn up the car radio on your birthday. You are slightly more likely to speed – even just a little, just because. You are less likely to say no to a challenge/ dare or to turn down an offer that you would normally refuse any other day including most other holidays. “Jump off a bridge into the river? It’s Christmas. I’m with my family. What’s wrong with you?” “Go into the ocean in February? I just turned forty today. Let’s do it!”

I can't look

All of these factors come together to create a deadly soup of possibilities.

What interested me are the unexplained deaths. People are sad, but did not outright do anything to take their life. People are driving, but by all outward appearances, they are doing their normal day stuff. There did not appear to be a conscious choice to wreak the car. The physical cause has a logical explanation, but not why on the birthday of all days. The deaths seem ordinary without a direct link to the deadly birthday soup.

Distraction maybe? We don’t die every time we are distracted or none of us would be here. Maybe we are deeper in thought though. Maybe it is harder to pull ourselves out of memory on this day than others in order to react in time to preserve ourselves. Does a birthday put us in a mindset of our own mortality and at a moment of self preservation we have an extra split second where we are torn between thoughts of fate before the survival instinct kicks through the birthday fog? Any other Tuesday that split second would be enough to dodge the oncoming danger, but when your birthday falls on a Tuesday, maybe you used a few extra synapses for wool-gathering and gave up a second of extra processing power at the moment you needed it in order to make 29 years and one day.

There are 366 possible birth dates on a calendar. If you take a classroom of 26 kids, you are likely to have two kids with the same birth date. That seems odd with 340 options still open, but mathematically the more times you draw random numbers from a bowl of 366, the more likely you are to get a repeat with each draw. As you approach 30 draws, that’s where a repeat tends to happen. It seems unlikely, but it is common for classmates to share a birth date.

In the same way, everyone dies some day, but some people just happen to do it on the day designated as their day of birth.

So, Happy Birthday … I hope you make it.


Jay Wilburn lives with his wife and two sons in Conway, South Carolina. He taught public school for sixteen years before becoming a full time writer. He is the author of many short stories including work in Best Horror of the Year volume 5, Zombies More Recent Dead, and Shadows Over Mainstreet. He is the author of the Dead Song Legend Dodecology and the music of The Sound May Suffer. He also wrote the novels Loose Ends and Time Eaters. He is one of the four authors behind the Hellmouth trilogy. Follow his many dark thoughts on Twitter, Instagram, and Periscope as @AmongTheZombies, his Facebook author page, and here at JayWilburn.com

Check out the Dead Song Legend book 1 here …

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Jay Wilburn
Jay Wilburn has a Masters Degree in Education that goes mostly unused since he quit teaching to write about zombies. Jay writes horror because he tends to find the light by facing down the darkness. He finds the journey through life easier by having you join him. Jay is the author of 2 series: The Dead Song Legend and The Great Interruption. He cowrote The Enemy Held Near with Armand Rosamilia. You can also find Jay's work in Best Horror of the Year volume 5 and Dark Moon Digest. Each year Jay has the pleasure of featuring many great authors in the genre through the Summer and Winter of Zombie blog tours on his website.

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  1. Jay, you kill me. If you’re not telling us what your little guy said, or commenting on FB, you’ll throw us a bone, like this. Fortunately my birthday was Sunday and I traveled and am still here. Well, there’s always next year, right?!

    • Jay says:

      I thought it was a good way to add some darkness to people’s birthday celebrations. I figured a few people would appreciate the irony of it all. Thanks for reading.

  2. ERIK BOMBOY says:

    I believe this post is part of an elaborate plot by Jay Wilburn to kill someone (or many people) on their birthday. Then he can just point to his research and say “See, I told you this was likely to happen!”

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