The Terminal Ten

The Terminal Ten: What the leading causes of death tell us about life in Western North Carolina
Share this

It’s a top 10 list no one wants to be on—the leading causes of death in Western North Carolina. It’s also a revealing roster of what’s unique about the ways we perish here. By crunching recent mortality rate data from WNC, we found some, um, deathly distinctions.

Most notably, WNC’s rates for death by suicide and non-motor vehicle-related unintentional injuries (like overdoses and shootings) are substantially higher than the statewide averages (34 and 47 percent higher, respectively). On the plus side, WNC’s death by diabetes rate is 11 percent lower than North Carolina’s as a whole.

Also on a positive note, WNC residents have a major life-extending asset at their doorstep. “One tried and true thing that has worked for many generations is fitness—being physically active,” notes Dr. Kimberly Price, an assistant professor of public health at Lenoir-Rhyne University’s Center for Graduate Studies in Asheville. “And we have a wonderful advantage here in Western North Carolina, with so many natural settings for walking, biking, and water activities. We just have to have the mindset to go out and do it.”