Outline of death

The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to death:

Death – termination of all biological functions that sustain a living organism.

What is death?

Death can be described as all of the following:

  • End of life – life is the characteristic distinguishing physical entities having signaling and self-sustaining processes from those that do not,[1][2] either because such functions have ceased (death), or because they lack such functions and are classified as inanimate.[3][4][5]
  • (Death is) the opposite of:
    • Life(see above)
    • Biogenesis – production of new living organisms or organelles. The law of biogenesis, attributed to Louis Pasteur, is the observation that living things come only from other living things, by reproduction (e.g. a spider lays eggs, which develop into spiders).
      • Fertilisation (Conception) – the beginning of an organism's life, initiated by the fusion of gametes resulting in the development of a new individual organism. In animals, the process involves the fusion of an ovum with a sperm, which eventually leads to the development of an embryo.
      • Birth – act or process of bearing or bringing forth offspring. In mammals, the process is initiated by hormones which cause the muscular walls of the uterus to contract, expelling the fetus at a developmental stage when it is ready to feed and breathe. Commonly considered the beginning of one's life. "First you are born, then you live life, then you die."
        • De-extinction – process of creating an organism, which is a member of or resembles an extinct species, or a breeding population of such organisms. Cloning is the most widely proposed method, although selective breeding has also been proposed. Similar techniques have been applied to endangered species. Though we have not yet brought an extinct species back to life
    • Survival – Survival is simply the need to live, the only real purpose of an organism is to generate offspring
      • Indefinite lifespan – term used in the life extension movement and transhumanism to refer to the hypothetical longevity of humans (and other life-forms) under conditions in which aging is effectively and completely prevented and treated. Their lifespans would be "indefinite" (that is, they would not be "immortal") because protection from the effects of aging on health does not guarantee survival. Such individuals would still be susceptible to accidental or intentional death by disease, starvation, getting hit by a truck, murdered, and so on, but not death from aging, some animals can live forever such as the Turritopsis doohmii jellyfish, or the bowhead whale.

Types of death

  • Individual death – termination of all biological functions within a living organism
  • Extinction – death of an entire species, or more specifically, death of the last member of a species
    • Extinction event – widespread and rapid decrease in the amount of life on Earth. Such an event is identified by a sharp reduction in the diversity and abundance of macroscopic life. Also known as a mass extinction or biotic crisis.
    • Human extinction – hypothesized end of the human species. Various scenarios have been discussed in science, popular culture, and religion (see end time)
    • Local extinction (extirpation) – condition of a species (another taxon) that ceases to exist in the chosen geographic area of study, though it still exists elsewhere. Local extinctions are contrasted with global extinctions. Local extinction can be reversed by reintroduction of the species to the area from other locations; wolf reintroduction is an example of this.

Causes of death

Causes of death, by type

Other classifications of causes of death

Effects of death

  • Effects of the anticipation of death
    • Death anxiety – morbid, abnormal or persistent fear of one's own death or the process of his/her dying. One definition of death anxiety is a "feeling of dread, apprehension or solicitude (anxiety) when one thinks of the process of dying, or ceasing to ‘be’". Also known as thanatophobia (fear of death).
    • Mortality salience
  • Effects on the deceased (and on the cadaver) – "deceased" is short for "deceased person", which is a person who has died and who is therefore dead. A cadaver is the body of a dead person.
    • End of consciousness – a dead body is no longer awake, but there is the question of where consciousness went to, if anywhere...
    • Cessation of breathing
    • Cardiac arrest – the heart has stopped beating (no pulse)
    • Pallor mortis – paleness which happens in the 15–120 minutes after death
    • Livor mortis – settling of the blood in the lower (dependent) portion of the body
    • Algor mortis – reduction in body temperature following death. This is generally a steady decline until matching ambient temperature
    • Rigor mortis – limbs of the corpse become stiff (Latin rigor) and difficult to move or manipulate
    • Decomposition – reduction into simpler forms of matter, accompanied by a strong, unpleasant odor.
    • Other (possible) effects
    • Treatment of corpses
      • In the wild
        • Consumed by predators (if those predators made the kill) – a predator is an organism that hunts and then eats its prey
        • Consumed by scavengers – a scavenger is an animal that feeds on dead animal and/or plant material present in its habitat
        • Decomposed by detritivores – detritivores are organisms which recycle detritus, returning it to the environment for reuse in the food chain. Examples of detritivores include earthworms, woodlice and dung beetles.
        • Fossilization
        • Catagenesis
      • In society
  • Effects on others

History of death

Philosophy and death

Death and culture

Death and culture

Medical field and death

Politics of death

Legalities of death

Religion and death

Death care industry

Death care industry – companies and organizations that provide services related to death (i.e., funerals, cremation or burial, and memorials).

Science of death

Psychology of death

Demography of death

Paranormal concepts pertaining to death

Death-related organizations

Death-related publications

Dead people


After death

See also


  1. ^ Koshland, Jr., Daniel E. (March 22, 2002). "The Seven Pillars of Life". Science. 295 (5563): 2215–2216. doi:10.1126/science.1068489. PMID 11910092. Retrieved 2009-05-25.
  2. ^ The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, 4th edition, published by Houghton Mifflin Company, via Answers.com:
    • "The property or quality that distinguishes living organisms from dead organisms and inanimate matter, manifested in functions such as metabolism, growth, reproduction, and response to stimuli or adaptation to the environment originating from within the organism."
    • "The characteristic state or condition of a living organism."
  3. ^ Definition of inanimate. WordNet Search by Princeton University.
  4. ^ "Merriam-Webster Dictionary". Merriam-Webster Dictionary. Retrieved 2009-06-21.
  5. ^ "organism". Chambers 21st Century Dictionary (online ed.). Chambers Publishers Ltd. 1999. Retrieved 2012-05-26.

External links

  • "Death". Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
1847 North American typhus epidemic

The typhus epidemic of 1847 was an outbreak of epidemic typhus caused by a massive Irish emigration in 1847, during the Great Famine, aboard crowded and disease-ridden "coffin ships".

Grosse Isle, Quebec

Grosse Isle (French: Grosse Île, "big island"), is located in Gulf of St. Lawrence in Quebec, Canada. It is one of the islands of the 21-island Isle-aux-Grues archipelago. It is part of the municipality of Saint-Antoine-de-l'Isle-aux-Grues, located in the Chaudière-Appalaches region of the province.

Also known as Grosse Isle and the Irish Memorial National Historic Site, the island was the site of an immigration depot which predominantly housed Irish immigrants coming to Canada to escape the Great Famine, 1845-1849. In 1832, the Lower Canadian Government had previously set up this depot to contain an earlier cholera epidemic that was believed to be caused by the large influx of European immigrants, and the station was reopened in the mid-Nineteenth Century to accommodate Irish migrants who had contracted typhus during their voyages. Thousands of Irish were quarantined on Grosse Isle from 1832 to 1848.

It is believed that over 3000 Irish died on the island and over 5000 are currently buried in the cemetery there; many died en route. Most who died on the island were infected with typhus, which sprang up from the conditions there in 1847. Grosse Isle is the largest burial ground for refugees of the Great Famine outside Ireland. After Canadian Confederation in 1867, the buildings and equipment were modernized to meet the standards of the new Canadian government's immigration policies. The island is sometimes called Canada's Ellis Island (1892-1954), an association it shares with Pier 21 immigration facility in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

It is estimated that in total, from when it was set up in 1832 to the closing in 1932, almost 500,000 Irish immigrants passed through Grosse Isle on their way to Canada.

Rod Blagojevich

Rod Blagojevich (, born December 10, 1956) is an American former politician who served as the 40th Governor of Illinois from 2003 until his impeachment, conviction, and removal from office in 2009.

A Democrat, Blagojevich was a state representative before being elected to the United States House of Representatives representing parts of Chicago. He was elected governor in 2002, the first Democrat to win the office since Dan Walker's victory 30 years earlier. Blagojevich was impeached and removed from office for corruption; he solicited bribes for political appointments, including Barack Obama's vacant U.S. Senate seat after Obama was elected president in 2008. Blagojevich was convicted and sentenced to 14 years in federal prison.


Self-preservation is a behavior or set of behaviors that ensures the survival of an organism. It is universal among all living organisms. Pain and fear are integral parts of this mechanism. Pain motivates the individual to withdraw from damaging situations, to protect a damaged body part while it heals, and to avoid similar experiences in the future. Most pain resolves promptly once the painful stimulus is removed and the body has healed, but sometimes pain persists despite removal of the stimulus and apparent healing of the body; and sometimes pain arises in the absence of any detectable stimulus, damage or disease. Fear causes the organism to seek safety and may cause a release of adrenaline, which has the effect of increased strength and heightened senses such as hearing, smell, and sight. Self-preservation may also be interpreted figuratively, in regard to the coping mechanisms one needs to prevent emotional trauma from distorting the mind (see Defence mechanisms).

Even the most simple of living organisms (for example, the single-celled bacteria) are typically under intense selective pressure to evolve a response that would help avoid a damaging environment, if such an environment exists. Organisms also evolve while adapting - even thriving - in a benign environment (for example, a marine sponge modifies its structure in response to current changes, in order to better absorb and process nutrients). Self-preservation is therefore an almost universal hallmark of life. However, when introduced to a novel threat, many species will have a self-preservation response either too specialised, or not specialised enough, to cope with that particular threat. An example is the dodo, which evolved in the absence of natural predators and hence lacked an appropriate, general self-preservation response to heavy predation by humans and rats, showing no fear of them.

Self preservation is essentially the process of an organism preventing itself from being harmed or killed and is considered a basic instinct in most organisms. Most call it a "survival instinct". Self-preservation is thought to be tied to an organism's reproductive fitness and can be more or less present according to perceived reproduction potential. If perceived reproductive potential is low enough, self-destructive behavior(the opposite) is not uncommon in social species. Self-preservation is also thought by some to be the basis of rational and logical thought and behavior.

In medicine
After death
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