“History Lessons” - Part 2: Decoding the Risk Taking Behavior of Historical Figures that Drowned
Stathis Avramidis, Stavros Patrinos
We assessed biographies of notable historical figures (HFs), who inspired the literature making significant positive/negative contributions to humanity, died by drowning and whether risk taking behavior (RTB) was involved. Method: With a convenient/criterion sampling we identified HFs (n=554) that drowned during the periods of Ancient History (-500A.D.; 13, 2.39%), Middle Ages (501A.D.-1500A.D.; 34, 6.25%) and Modern History (1501A.D.–today; 497, 91.36%). HF were athletes; authors/poets; artists (actors, composers, painters, musicians, models, cinematographers); entrepreneurs, businessmen, directors; religious figures; military personnel and prisoners of war; royal people (kings, princes, emperors, sultans, barons, lords); aquatic professionals; folk figures; philanthropists; goodwill ambassadors; charity people; photographers, journalists, press, radio professionals; politicians and country leaders; scientists, academics, teachers; clerks, carpenters, secretary, salesmen, merchants, guides, servants; lawyers, architects, inventors, designers; race car drivers, stuntmen; criminals (drag lords, murderers, pirates). Statistical analysis included chi-square. Results: Statistically significant differences (SSD) were noted between RTB and several variables: (1)Alcohol//Drug Consumption (p<0.001): Most sampled HFs did not pose any RTB neither consumed alcohol/drugs (497, 93.2%). However, alcohol/drugs consumers were more likely to attempt a RTB (6, 14.29%) compared to those that did not take any risk. (2)Casualty Types (p<0.001): RTs were mostly non-swimmers (9, 22.5%), weak-swimmers (9, 22.5%) and competent swimmers (9, 22.5%). NRTs were mostly non-swimmers (263, 54.68%). (3)Way of Entering into the Water (p<0.001): RTs were more likely to enter in the water intentionally (26, 61.9%) compared to NRTs (167, 32.81%). (4)Casualty Dressing (i.e., clothes, swimwear or naked; p=0.001): Among the RTs the majority fell in the water wearing clothes (26, 61.9%) as opposed to 1/3 of the sample that wore a swimwear (14, 33.3%). Those that drowned without taking any risk, the majority wore clothes (424, 85.14%) or swimwear (66, 13.25%). (5)Age Group (p=0.027): Risk takers were more often aged 25-44 years old (24, 60%). NRTs were mostly people of all age groups above 25 years old (415, 90.1%). (6)Cause of Death (i.e., suicide, homicide, accidental fall, execution, martyrdom by drowning, boating, scuba, transport, unsuccessful rescue, sacrifice, fishing, military, disaster, swim, heart attack, bathing, aquatics, escape; p<0.001): RTB was evident on people engaged in aquatic activities (14, 33.33%), boating (13, 30.95%) or when they attempted to rescue others (11, 26.19%). The drowning episodes that didn't involved RTB were often caused accidentally (86, 17.34%), during a boating activity (175, 35.28%) or after a suicide attempt (83, 16.73%). (7)Profession (p=0.006): Athletes (8, 19.05%), entrepreneurs (4, 9.52%) and aquatic professionals (6, 14.29%) were more likely to attempt a RTB than authors and poets (39, 7.91%), royal and noble people (42, 8.52%) and politicians (70, 14.20%). Conclusions: Several notable personalities died by drowning. In some of them RTB was involved. Risk takers belonged were aged 25-44 years old, consumed drugs/alcohol, engaged in aquatics, boating or attempted a rescue. They were non/weak/competent swimmers and likely entered the water intentionally, wearing clothes or swimwear. Athletes, entrepreneurs and aquatic professionals were more likely to take risks than authors, poets, politicians, royal and noble people. Those that didn't take risks, often drowned accidentally, while boating or by suicide.
Citation: Avramidis, S., Patrinos, S. (2017). “History Lessons” - Part 2: Decoding the Risk Taking Behavior of Historical Figures that Drowned. In: Avramidis, S. (Ed.). Conference on Near-Death Experiences while Drowning (p. 24). Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, USA: International Swimming Hall of Fame.