The Birthday Effect’s Not So Great

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Photo by atalou on Foter.com / CC BY-ND

Have you heard about “The Birthday Effect?” Apparently, researchers in the United States, England, Switzerland and Japan have found the probability of death increases on or near people’s birthdays.

The main reasons are “stress related to the birthday, increased consumption of alcohol and drugs, and the tendency of terminally ill patients to hold off their passing until their birthday.” There is also what’s called “the birthday blues,” which increases birthday suicides.

The statistical anomaly known as “The Birthday Effect” is seen in some celebrity passings, which are captured now in online round-ups. Of course, since this site aims to be THE source for everything birthday-related, we’re due for a gallery of our own. So, here goes.

Famous Birthday Effect-ers

Renaissance painter Raphael (not the Ninja Turtle named after him) died on April 6, 1520. While the cause of death on his 37th birthday is unclear, “he reportedly died after an especially wild night with his long-time lover Margherita Luti.”

Another painter who died on his birthday? Grant Wood. The American painter, best known for his American Gothic, died of cancer February 13, 1942. He was 51.

Jazz saxophonist Sidney Bechet played his final notes on his 62nd birthday. He died in France of lung cancer on May 14, 1959.

Academy-Award winning Ingrid Bergman died August 29,1982, on her 67th birthday. The iconic  Isla Lund from Casablanca had fought a long battle with breast cancer before her death. Her ashes were sent back to her home country, Sweden.

The actress may have been doing a final ode to playwright and poet William Shakespeare who is thought to have died from a heart attack on his own April 23rd birthday in 1616 at the age of 52.

Betty Friedan, author of The Feminine Mystique (and a Smith College grad — just saying) died on February 4, 2006. She died of congestive heart failure at her Washington, D.C. home on her 85th birthday.

Activist Ella Baker, who fought alongside Martin Luther King, Jr., W. E. B. Du Bois, and Thurgood Marshall, died on her 83rd birthday (December 13, 1986).

One more who rode into the sunset on his birthday? Johnny Longden. The Triple Crown-winning jockey, who rode Count Fleet to Kentucky Derby, the Preakness, and the Belmont Stakes wins in 1943, died in 2003. He was born and died on Valentine’s Day.

If birthdays are a reminder of loved ones for you, check out this past blog.

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