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Death is one of the biggest fear of almost all of us, and we all have some sort of phobias related to death. For instance, I'm pretty much scared of water as I don't know how to swim and the thought of drowning makes me uncomfortable while in a pool. I'm sure we all have similar feelings for similar things. But ever wondered what is it like to be killed to death in those ways? What does exactly happen when people die in the most common ways? Here are some of the explanations.
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The state of a drowning victim is called the classic "surface struggle". The gasp for air and hold their breath since they can't call for help. They try to climb a non-existent ladder from the sea, gasping. According to the studies with New York lifeguards in the 1950s and 1960s, this stage lasts only for 20 to 60 seconds. After holding their breath for 30 to 90 seconds, they inhale some water, splutter, cough and inhale more. This leads to the entry of water in their lungs, thus blocking gas exchange in delicate tissues, and also seals shut the airway, causing laryngospasm. According to the studies, "There is a feeling of tearing and a burning sensation in the chest as water goes down into the airway. Then that sort of slips into a feeling of calmness and tranquility," describing reports from survivors. Oxygen deprivation results in the loss of consciousness, eventually stopping of heart and brain death.
It's a complete torture. First of all, the flames singe hair and eyebrows, burning the throat next, and thus making it painful and hard to breathe. The nociceptors – the pain nerves in the skin get simulated immediately. But the strange thing is, most people who die in fires do not die from burns. In fact, it is the release of toxic gases like carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide and even hydrogen cyanide – together with the suffocating lack of oxygen.
Blood loss is generally followed by several stages of hemorrhagic shock. An average adult has about 5 liters of blood. Loss of 1.5 liters of blood – either through an external wound or internal bleeding – leads to weakness, thirst and anxiety. By 2 liters, dizziness, confusion and then eventual unconsciousness occur.
The person generally gets unconsciousness within 10 seconds, given the pressure the rope puts on the windpipe and the arteries to the brain. The victims of hanging execution are witnessed "dancing" in pain at the end of the rope, struggling violently as they asphyxiated. It takes a few minutes (sometimes up to 15 minutes) for death to occur.
In case of low, household current, the common-most cause of death is stopping of the heart, technically known as Arrhythmia. After about 10 seconds of being electrocuted, the person falls unconscious, whereas higher currents can produce nearly immediate unconsciousness.
It is supposedly the quickest and least painful way to die, given the executioner is skilled, his blade is sharp, and the condemned sits still. Or else, it may get really sore. Talking about the brain death, A study in rats in 1991 found that it takes 2.7 seconds for the brain to consume the oxygen from the blood in the head, after which rats die. The equivalent figure for humans is approximately 7 seconds.
Apparently the speediest way to die. Survivors of great falls mostly report the sensation of time slowing down around them during the fall. The exact reason of death depends on the landing surface and the person's posture. The major causes of instantaneous death including massive lung bruising, collapsed lungs, exploded hearts or damage to major blood vessels and lungs through broken ribs.
The humane alternative to the electric chair, US government approved Lethal injection is basically a series of three drug injections. Thiopental is the first anaesthetic to speed away any feelings of pain. It is followed by a paralytic agent called pancuronium, given to stop breathing. Finally potassium chloride is injected which stops the heart the very moment it enters the body. All the three drugs are given in lethal dose, which sometimes lead to inmates convulsing, heaving and attempting to sit up during the procedure.