For many, the manner of embracing death is more of a worry than the thought of meeting the end. Now, a research on post-mortem examinations and reports of near-death experiences has demystified a few myths about the worst ways to die.
The study examined several extreme and unpleasant causes of death, including decapitation and explosive decompression, discovering that while the physical injuries from each of theses ways were gruesome, a lack of oxygen to the brain usually gave the death blow.
Cynthia McVey, a psychologist at Glasgow Caledonian University, says that personalities may have an influence on the method of death, reports New Scientist.
"There are those who, when trapped in a burning house, will throw themselves from a window even if there is no need to. Some people will do this because they panic at what they see is the most pressing danger,' the Scotsman quoted McVey, as saying in the report.
"People want to go with the least amount of suffering and violence - something that will not humiliate them in the final moments,' she said.
The review found that in cases of drowning, victims first panic and try to hold their breath. Then, there is a feeling of "tearing and burning" when water enters the lungs, followed by calmness and tranquillity.
The cutting of oxygen supply to the brain leads to unconsciousness and then death. For death caused by injection-induced heart failure in cases of death sentence in the US, it is suggested that some prisoners have felt the burning sensation of the first injection, but paralysis has stopped them from expressing it.
Analysis of reports from guillotine executions in 18th Century France found that brain might function for several seconds after decapitation and facial movements continued for up to 30 seconds. Though "Long-drop" hangings are intended to break the neck, it was found that 80 pct of the prisoners died due to asphyxiation.
It is believed that burns lessen pain sensitivity since superficial nerves are killed. But, this study discovered that the loss of feeling is not much and majority of the people who die in fires are killed by inhalation of toxic gases and asphyxiation.
An electric shock experienced in the house may stop the heart, causing unconsciousness after ten seconds. However, electric chair death may be caused by heating of the brain or suffocation.
The study of human survivors of rapid decompression include pilots and a NASA technician who experienced a vacuum chamber accident, found that they often felt initial pain, similar to being struck in the chest. In less than 15 seconds, they lose unconsciousness.