Fear of murder in Minnesota

Linda (spouse) went to an event downtown Minneapolis with her knitting group.  They had a great time.  I was whining to a co-worker how I did the laundry while Linda was off having fun.  To my surprise, my co-worker questioned the wisdom of letting Linda go downtown at night because of the danger of being murdered.  I chuckled at the thought of dictating where and when Linda went with her knitting club.  (A strong-willed fun-loving group of women)  I also thought my co-worker was joking about being murdered, but she was not.  It occurred to me that she did not know just how unlikely it is to be murdered.  Whether you go downtown or anywhere else.  Fear of murder in Minnesota is the topic of this post.

Google stock image (or is it me doing the laundry?)

According to 2015 Uniform Crime Report published by the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension there were 144 murders in Minnesota in 2015.  Of that number, five offenses were negligent and nine were unfounded or justifiable, yielding 130 criminal homicide victims.  Two-thirds (82) of the murders were committed by an acquaintance or relative.  Of the remaining third, some were where the offender and victim did not know each other but it was not random.  Think of gang on gang murders or somebody targeting a particular person.

Bottom line is of the 144 murders in the entire state for the entire year, only a small number (50 or less) were a random victim in the wrong place at the wrong time.  The population of Minnesota was 5,489,952 in 2015 according to the US Census Bureau.  All but 144 (5,489,808) were not murdered.  All but about 50 (5,489,902) were not murdered by some random, unknown person.  Add to that there are 365 days in a year.  In the entire state, on average there is about one murder committed per week against a person unknown by the offender.  The odds of being that one person out of 5.4 million people who is literally in the wrong place at the wrong time is so small that you are many times more likely to have a heart attack worrying about it.

Over forty-one thousand Minnesotans die annually.  Most die from a medical issue: mostly heart conditions (about 10,600) or cancer (about 10,000).  Too many of them committed suicide (about 760).  Another 572 died from an overdose, 216 of which were from opioid pain relievers.

The top 10 leading causes of death in the United States.

  1. Heart disease. (23.4%)
  2. Cancer (malignant neoplasms) (22.5%)
  3. Chronic lower respiratory disease. (5.6%)
  4. Accidents (unintentional injuries) (5.2%)
  5. Stroke (cerebrovascular diseases) (5.1%)
  6. Alzheimer’s disease. (3.6%)
  7. Diabetes. (2.9)
  8. Influenza and pneumonia. (2.1)
  9. Kidney disease (nephritis, nephrotic syndrome, and nephrosis) (1.8%)
  10. Suicide (intentional self-harm) (1.6%)

You are over 14,000 times more likely to die from a heart condition or cancer than being murdered.  Almost four times more people die from an overdose than die from murder.  The 144 murders are less than the rounding error in the about 41,000 that died.

The scary headline about a horrific murder, while sad, does not make your death by murder statistically more likely.  You are extremely unlikely to be murdered.   It could happen but most other forms of death are far more likely.  Murdered by someone you do not know is even less likely.

Not saying you should go out of your way to aggravate dangerous people.  Do what is takes to protect yourself.  However, I am saying you should not let fear of being murdered prevent you from participating in the life you want to lead.  Your driving habits are far more relevant to your safety than being murdered is.

What personally bothers me is all of the special interest groups that promote the danger of murder to further their interests.  Certainly many of these special interest groups are not nefarious.  However, there they are trying to scare people to get votes, sell papers, justify budgets, sell hardware, get people to take their training, scare their kids, promote remote resorts, etc.  My blog is Scale and Perception exactly because of issues like this.  Where the perception of reality does not align with the actual measure (scale) of that reality.

Murder happens and it is terrible.  The idea of murdered just because you were in the wrong place at the wrong time is scary.  Yes, it could happen, but do not live in fear of it happening.  Go for that walk, attend that concert, take that vacation, go to the theatre downtown, go to the weird restaurant, do what it takes to live your life.  Want to extend your life, get a checkup, exercise, drive carefully, talk to a therapist, take your meds, do not text and drive, etc.

Do not let the politician, news, friend or neighbor scare you about imagined dangers.  Just saying.