Good news: in 2011, 18 percent fewer people died in Los Angeles County than in 2002. Bad news: in 2011, three percent more people died in LA County than in 2010. Very bad news: 100 percent of people in LA County will die. The LA County Department of Public Health recently released its latest mortality report, covering 2011, and it confirms that, while death comes for us all, it comes for us all in very different ways, at different times, and in different places. The comprehensive report breaks down the causes of both death and premature death (before age 75) for men and women, people of all ages and races, and residents of every area of the county, and the results are distressing even for a report on death. Like many areas of the US, it is extremely deadly to be a black man, or any black person, or Latino in Los Angeles. It is also very life-threatening to be poor.
Black men had the highest death rate in the county in 2011 (1,062 deaths per 100,000 people). The median age of death for black and Hispanic Angelenos was only 71 years (premature, by definition), compared to 82 years for white people or 80 years for Asian/Pacific Islanders. The rich Westside had the lowest death rate; South LA and the Antelope Valley, both poor regions with large black and Latino populations, had the highest death rates. (Poor areas of LA are less healthy for residents in a number of ways.)
In every part of the county besides South LA, the most common cause of early death was coronary heart disease; in South LA, it was homicide. South LA did still have the highest death rate from coronary heart disease, and the highest death rate from stroke, and from lung cancer, and from pneumonia/influenza.
Forty-three percent of deaths in LA in 2011—not much less than half—were "premature," or of people under age 75. (Weirdly enough, the report does not break out the weighted figures—the "per 100,000" number—for premature deaths, so we can't say which races or which areas are most affected.) If you're between 15 and 44, you are most likely to die of murder, although that's mostly on men; women in that age range are prone to car crashes, breast cancer (black and Hispanic), suicide (Asian/Pacific Islander), and drug overdoses (white). After 44, you are most likely to die of coronary heart disease.
Guns killed 740 people in LA in 2011, accounting for 74 percent of homicides and 37 percent of suicides. Overall, the same four things that have been most likely to kill Angelenos since 2002 were still most likely to kill them in 2011: coronary heart disease, stroke, lung cancer, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Here's all the data:
· MORTALITY IN LOS ANGELES COUNTY 2011 [Department of Public Health]
· Watts Residents Will Die 11.9 Years Before Bel Air Residents [Curbed LA]
· Mapping Los Angeles's Crazy Uneven Access to Healthy Living [Curbed LA]