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How We Die In Las Vegas


By Bobak Ha'Eri (Own work)/ [CC BY 3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Las Vegas' historic Woodlawn cemetery

There are only two sure things in life – death and taxes.

Taxes are due by April 15, but there is no due date when it comes to dying.

So, how do people die in Las Vegas?

That’s a question the Las Vegas Review-Journal tried to answer in a special section Sunday titled "Death in Las Vegas."

Among the findings were Las Vegas tend to die from such bad habits as smoking, excessive drinking and over eating. We also prefer to be cremated.

Michael Murphy the former Clark County Coroner told KNPR's State of Nevada that while it seems like there are more unusual deaths in Las Vegas it is more likely that unlike the famous slogan, not everything stays here.

“So, often what happens in Las Vegas the world knows about,” Murphy said.

He said during the recession the city did see a surge in murder-suicides that were obviously connected to the financial devastation many people suffered. He said his office handled 12 to 13 in one year, when usually it is more like one or two a year. 

Jim Wright, a deputy editor for the Las Vegas Review-Journal, said that as they were putting together the special series they found it difficult to find statistics to compare Las Vegas to any other city.

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"It's hard to get numbers to compare ourselves to other cities like us, because there is no city like us," Wright said.

The journalists who worked on the stories did find some interesting trends in the statistics. 

First, despite the idea that people come to Las Vegas to kill themselves, like Nicholas Cage's character in "Leaving Las Vegas," the reality is we are not a stop for one last fling before committing suicide.

They also found that we don't smoke, drink or overeat more than the national average. And like other communities around the country, Las Vegas is struggling with the problem of pain pill abuse and addiction, which may not be the primary cause of a person's death but it often contributes. 



Jim Wright, deputy editor for news and business, Las Vegas Review-Journal, James DeHaven, reporter, Las Vegas Review-Journal, and Michael Murphy, former Clark County coroner.

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