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Analysis and Comment (37)

A reduction over the years in rider deaths in horse racing means further tragedies could be prevented. Flickr/Tsutomu Takasu

We need to prevent further jockey deaths in horse racing

Horse racing claimed the lives of three jockeys recently – two in Australia and one in the United States – and some prominent industry professionals have openly claimed that deaths in racing are part of…
Status update: this party’s dead, and so am I. Eddi van W.

From here to Eterni.me – the quest for digital immortality

Earlier this year, start-up Eterni.me emerged from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Entrepreneurship Development program. The company’s tagline – “simply become immortal” – quickly attracted media…
When superheroes die on the page, fans have learned not to mourn their deaths. FRacco/Wikimedia Commons

Wolverine’s dead! (well, for now)

Among comic book fans, there’s the joke that the only characters in superhero comics who stay dead are Spider-Man’s Uncle Ben, Batman’s parents, and Captain America’s sidekick Bucky. For everybody else…
Space can be at a premium in cemeteries … and when it runs out, reusing old graves is an option. William Murphy/Flickr

Losing the plot: death is permanent, but your grave isn’t

Headstones at the Dudley Park cemetery in Payneham, South Australia, were recently bulldozed as part of the ongoing “recycling” of more than 400 graves. Some people were shocked to realise that gravesites…
Seeing beautiful otherworldly scenes and coming to a border of no return are commonly reported features of near-death experiences. Louish Pixel

Death isn’t scary – if you’ve had a near-death experience

At some stage, you will die. You may not know the time, date or circumstance of your death, but you do know it’s inevitable. Contemplating this fact can be uncomfortable. It evokes anxiety and fear in…
Just 14% of Australians have an advance care plan. Simplificamos Su Trabajo/Flickr

Making a will? Why not plan your end-of-life care too

More than half of Australians have a will (59%) to determine how their property will be divided after they die. And 30% have appointed a power of attorney to make financial decisions if they lose the capacity…
We all have the legal right to refuse health care. Warren Goldswain

It’s your choice: how to plan for a better death

Have you thought about how you would want to be treated if you cannot make your own decisions? You may be unconscious after car accident, you may be so ill you cannot communicate, or you may be dying and…
Heaney at a family party in 1979. bc-burnslibrary

‘That final vowel’: reading Seamus Heaney’s last poem

Seamus Heaney’s final poem has been published just over a year after his death. Finished ten days before he died aged 74 in August 2013, the poem is a mediation on a painting of a canal by the French artist…
The majority of Australians want to die at home but just 14% are able to do so. Rustle/Shutterstock

A good death: Australians need support to die at home

The baby boomers are growing old and in the next 25 years the number of Australians who die each year will double. People want to die comfortably at home, supported by family and friends and effective…
Justice Crew perform at Madame Tussauds Sydney, for the Australian launch of Michael Jackson’s Xscape album, May 2014. AAP Image/Dan Himbrechts

Michael Jackson – there’s no Xscape from posthumous pop

Epic Records, in conjunction with the estate of Michael Jackson released the King of Pop Michael Jackson’s second posthumous album Xscape last week. To create the album Epic Records chairman and CEO L.A…
Thousands of bodies remain buried under Melbourne’s Queen Vic Market carpark. Koppenbadger

Should the dead roll over to make room for real estate?

As a general rule, one place you really don’t want to find yourself is in-between a Melburnian and a piece of real estate. But one group of long-term city residents has been getting in the way of developers…
We live in an era when chronically ill people are exposed to technological interventions that may not serve them well. Carlos Fonseca/Flickr

How do we decide the value of death (and life)?

Allowing people with incurable and unsupportable illness to die is ethically acceptable to most people, even though it’s unlikely there will ever be unanimity about when and how we allow such deaths. But…
Your Facebook settings now stay put, even after you die. rutty

Faceless Facebook reps help bereaved families Look Back

Facebook’s Community Operations team has announced it is changing the privacy settings on accounts for deceased users to reflect the settings they chose in life. Before the new policy, Facebook automatically…
Heat relief: on hot days, flying foxes - like this grey-headed flying fox - dip their bellies into water to cool down. Nick Edards

Killer climate: tens of thousands of flying foxes dead in a day

This summer we have seen one of the most dramatic animal die-offs ever recorded in Australia: at least 45,500 flying foxes dead on just one extremely hot day in southeast Queensland, according to our new…
The physiological stress of the heat accumulates and takes its toll after two or three days. AAP Image/Joe Castro

Death in a hot climate: southern heatwave to take its toll

Hopefully the southern Australian heatwave is coming to an end – for now. But for health-care providers and death investigators, such as me, the fallout will continue for some time to come. It’s unclear…
Gravestones at Rookwood range from the majestic to the tacky. Crouchy69

Peace at last in Sydney’s Rookwood Cemetery

Sydney’s Rookwood Cemetery, the largest necropolis in the southern hemisphere, has had its share of troubles lately. A recent ABC investigation reported on a suite of alleged governance problems, including…
Ashes to ashes, pixel to pixel. The latest tech means you can do it your way.

You can linger longer with a digital death

Digital life now begins before birth, with excited expectant parents sharing ultrasound images of their unborn babies online. But your digital life also continues after you die, and can come in handy in…
Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) prevents many deaths across the world, but it doesn’t bring dead people back to life. NATO Training Mission-Afghanistan

Waking the dead? Some things you should know about dying

Not content with saving lives, doctors are now credited with (accused of?) bringing the dead back to life. But how true are the stories we hear about people “coming back” from being dead and how does it…
Death and dying is often a taboo topic for people with disability, but shouldn’t be ignored. Image from shutterstock.com

Living with disability – and planning a good death

Australians have a poor track record of talking about death and dying. A recent survey of Australians who’d just lost a loved one to a terminal illness found just 15% were told how their relative wanted…
It’s never easy when someone we’re close to is dying but there are things we can learn from the professionals who deal with this every day. PA/David Cheskin

We need to get over our fear of talking about dying

It’s not always easy to talk to someone who is dying. Conversations about future plans and wishes may appear insensitive and fuelled with great pain and distress when it’s somebody we love. For some, not…
Demonstrations over the death of Margaret Thatcher have raised questions about the morality of celebrating death. EPA/Facundo Arrizabalaga

Burying Thatcher: why celebrating death is still wrong

A funeral ceremony will take place for former British prime minister Margaret Thatcher in London’s St Paul’s Cathedral. Outside, protesters will be turning their backs on the coffin as it passes through…
Does your Twitter account have to die with you? Image via www.shutterstock.com

I tweet dead people: can the internet help you cheat your maker?

Can you believe it’s been a year already? I’m sure we all remember where we were when we heard the terrible news we’d lost Gregg Jevin. You know, Gregg Jevin? The Gregg Jevin? Don’t worry if the name doesn’t…
Heart disease is a lifelong problem that needs to be managed properly. Peter Hartl

A five-point plan to reduce heart attack deaths in Australia

Out of the 10,021 Australian who died of a heart attack in 2010, 5,305 were experiencing their second such event. Systematic national reforms are needed to reduce the alarming number of people having a…
Research shows that men are more likely to stay and fight bushfires than women. AAP/Tony Phillips

Fighting and dying: blokes and bushfire in Australia

“Record-breaking Heatwave”. “Australia Burns”. “Heroes of the Flames”. Headlines such as these will be familiar to anyone who has lived though a bad bushfire season in Australia. These past two weeks have…
How much is enough to compensate someone who is about to die for allowing someone else to financially benefit from their death? leiris202/Flickr

Death and the market: the peculiar dealings of Joseph Caramadre

Is profiting from the deaths of others wrong? In an interview on This American Life, Joseph Caramadre maintains it’s not. At least, he says, “Not if it’s done morally, ethically, and legally.” This month…
On the ninth anniversary of the US-led Iraqi invasion, suicide attacks were used against civilians in Iraq. EPA/Mohammed Jalil

Good and bad deaths: why we react to suicide bombers the way we do

Suicide attacks and car bombings across Iraq this week have killed at least 43 people and left 255 wounded. We are sadly now very familiar with the phenomenon of the suicide bomber, but the particular…
Amendments to the bill require doctors to get a second opinion. Rosie O'Beirne

Finding the balance in South Australia’s euthanasia legislation

South Australian MPs will tomorrow debate a bill which could see euthanasia legalised in the state, paving the way for other jurisdictions to follow. The bill has been criticised by the South Australian…
Flesh-flies frequently give birth to maggots on corpses of human and other animals. sankax

Forensic entomology: the time of death is everything

FORENSICS AUSTRALIA – Insects are everywhere. Their ubiquitous nature, and the fact they represent the largest biomass of animals on the earth, means there are hardly any terrestrial niches – except when…
People who commit serious crime are sent to prison as punishment, not for punishment. f o/Flickr

When freedom is fatal: the preventable deaths of recently released prisoners

A study published today in the Medical Journal of Australia concludes that more prison inmates in Australia die in the year after they’ve been released than the annual number of deaths in custody. A disproportionate…

Columnists (3)

How Maya Angelou made me feel

One of the many quotes from Maya Angelou that people are sharing on this day of her home coming is: I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will…

Death, the universe and everything

The Earth’s biosphere teems with life. From its upper atmosphere to the depths of its oceans, even down into the rocks that make up the planet’s crust. All of it, all these billions of tonnes of carbon-based…

Research and News (3)

Research Briefs (10)

Child and maternal deaths dramatically decline

The UN Millennium Development Goals accelerated a decline in child and maternal deaths on a global scale after being adopted…

Contemplating death is good for you

The thought of death can lead to better health, altruism, and even reduced divorce rates. A new study commissioned by the…