Death count at Burning Man

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Death count at Burning Man

Postby cosmicchild » Fri Sep 07, 2012 1:22 am

Sorry to be morbid, but I'm very curious about the death count at Burning Man each year, and it seems very hard to find real information on the subject. This year was my first Burn, and it was joyous and wonderful, and while there I heard about the death of one skydiver on the Playa. I wondered quietly how many others might be perishing within our community.

A few days before I left for my first Burning Man, I started to freak out a little bit, and one reason (of many) was about the possibility of death. I searched the internet for as much information as possible, and found only a couple of firsthand accounts and rumors of deaths experienced on the Playa. No hard numbers, and no information directly from Burning Man. From what I have read, I understand that Black Rock City does experience a few deaths of its residents each year, and the proportion to "real" cities is much lower. But if Black Rock City is a real city, even for just a week, shouldn't its residents be able to easily research these kinds of statistics?

The ticket states that we risk injury and death, and cannot hold Burning Man responsible. Of course it's a negative subject, one that can bring all the beauty of Burning Man to a screeching halt. But with all the FAQs and preparation articles that this website provides, and the disclaimer on the tickets, why does it seem like the death toll is ignored or purposely kept confidential? Should or should this not be public information?
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Re: Death count at Burning Man

Postby junglesmacks » Fri Sep 07, 2012 6:44 am

It's not being ignored and it is public information each year. Patience.
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Re: Death count at Burning Man

Postby some seeing eye » Fri Sep 07, 2012 7:34 am

Burning Man is a corporation and there is no reason for them to publicize it, and there is no legal reason compelling them to do so. On playa deaths are recorded differently than off playa. Widespread publicity would only increase your ticket costs that go to insurance and increase the probability that the event be abruptly discontinued.
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Re: Death count at Burning Man

Postby theCryptofishist » Fri Sep 07, 2012 8:48 am

It's not a few people dieing each year. Some years there may be a death, even more than one, but never very many. Is three the top? otherwise it's two. If there has been a death this year, I think it would be all over this board. Check the Reno Gazette-Journal, they are going to have the most recent figures.
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Re: Death count at Burning Man

Postby Ugly Dougly » Fri Sep 07, 2012 8:54 am

Thank you for your first and probably only post, "CosmicChild".
Please to visit PAGE TWO.
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Re: Death count at Burning Man

Postby Ever » Fri Sep 07, 2012 9:23 am

I too have a morbid curiosity.

I don't have a link on me, but I know there's coverage for the history of deaths at Burning Man. It seems to be, on average, less than one per event.

One observation I've made is that a death who's accident happened inside the event (heart attack on the playa, tangled parachute, etc) but who's resulting death happened outside of the event (Reno hospital, in an ambulance on 447, etc) seems to not be recorded as an official death at the event (IE, I'm not positive that it will be in the Post-Burn Report).
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Re: Death count at Burning Man

Postby theCryptofishist » Fri Sep 07, 2012 9:55 am

You're right, Ever. Before the 2003 event, the formula was (as near as I can remember) no on playa deaths during the event. Which I thought was cutting it rather fine. I'd agree that it averages below one a year, but I have no idea what the to and fro deaths are--and I think that might more than double it. But this is not in anyway a formal number--I have searched nothing but my faulty memory.
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Re: Death count at Burning Man

Postby H.G.Crosby » Fri Sep 07, 2012 10:44 am

does killing a large theme camp count?
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Re: Death count at Burning Man

Postby Roberto Dobbisano » Fri Sep 07, 2012 10:48 am

H.G.Crosby wrote:does killing a large theme camp count?



ooooh, they actually had a "theme" besides Negligent Drunken Frat Boy Glory Hole Corporate Shill?

what was it?



and on a side note, how many e-tards were seriously injured on the Trans-Raver Express Way between 10 and 2 that was set up so they never had to see any of the rest of the city...

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Re: Death count at Burning Man

Postby Dr. Pyro » Fri Sep 07, 2012 10:51 am

FWIW, it seems to me most towns or cities of say 55,000 people will likely have one or two deaths over any given eight day period. Why should Black Rock City be any different? Of course, those towns also would have a couple of births as well, something BRC is probably not going to have.
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Re: Death count at Burning Man

Postby brcprincess » Fri Sep 07, 2012 10:52 am

I remember a suicide a few years back.
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Re: Death count at Burning Man

Postby AntiM » Fri Sep 07, 2012 11:57 am

The Comfort and Joy suicide, and Kathy Lampman falling under the art car trailer, those two for sure. Wasn't there a plane crash one year which killed three or four people? And a guy who ran into the Man's flames but died in Reno? An unconfirmed death in a tent, overdose or heart attack, which didn't make the gossip scene? Deaths in Reno hospitals from incidents on the playa and on the road aren't in the official tally.

More on the way out, but only one I've been told of fisthand. The teller of the tale came on the wreck eastbound I-80 and ran over to help, found the woman's arm first. That stuck with me.
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Re: Death count at Burning Man

Postby Candybox » Fri Sep 07, 2012 12:02 pm

Dr. Pyro wrote:FWIW, it seems to me most towns or cities of say 55,000 people will likely have one or two deaths over any given eight day period. Why should Black Rock City be any different? Of course, those towns also would have a couple of births as well, something BRC is probably not going to have.


But the BM population is far from a cross-section of the general population. The nature of the event (intense, expensive camping trip in generally harsh conditions) self-selects for a population that will be healthier and younger than the general adult population. For example, in a normal city of 55,000, there will be elderly nursing home residents and hospitals filled with seriously or terminally ill patients. But these same people are likely not going to BM. The conditions required to go to BM will also select for people who are (generally speaking) financially better off than average, as well as healthy enough to withstand a week in the desert.
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Re: Death count at Burning Man

Postby theCryptofishist » Fri Sep 07, 2012 6:49 pm

AntiM wrote:The Comfort and Joy suicide, and Kathy Lampman falling under the art car trailer, those two for sure. Wasn't there a plane crash one year which killed three or four people? And a guy who ran into the Man's flames but died in Reno? An unconfirmed death in a tent, overdose or heart attack, which didn't make the gossip scene? Deaths in Reno hospitals from incidents on the playa and on the road aren't in the official tally.

More on the way out, but only one I've been told of fisthand. The teller of the tale came on the wreck eastbound I-80 and ran over to help, found the woman's arm first. That stuck with me.

The plane crash was the same year as Kathy Lampman (2003), but I think all those were in the hospital.
The guy who ran into a fire buy died in Reno was before 2002, because Scott pulled him out before I ever went to the burn. Unless it happened more than once.
The guy in the tent was a heart attack, but rumored to be something else before that was confirmed. May have been the same year as Jerm/Comfort and Joy.
Yeah, it's my belief that the road out is more dangerous than the event, but as they don't count them, I;ve never seen a tally.

And then there was 1996. That's the motorcycle or car running over a tent and either a) mortally wounding someone who died off-playa, or b) crippling someone who still comes to the burn every year. This is the most rumor-ey to me, because it was before I started attending. Although I do remember a newspaper story. It's also the event that precipitated the DMV.
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Re: Death count at Burning Man

Postby cosmicchild » Fri Sep 07, 2012 6:58 pm

junglesmacks wrote:It's not being ignored and it is public information each year. Patience.


I can be patient. Where will I find the information?
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Re: Death count at Burning Man

Postby cosmicchild » Fri Sep 07, 2012 7:18 pm

Candybox wrote:
Dr. Pyro wrote:FWIW, it seems to me most towns or cities of say 55,000 people will likely have one or two deaths over any given eight day period. Why should Black Rock City be any different? Of course, those towns also would have a couple of births as well, something BRC is probably not going to have.


But the BM population is far from a cross-section of the general population. The nature of the event (intense, expensive camping trip in generally harsh conditions) self-selects for a population that will be healthier and younger than the general adult population. For example, in a normal city of 55,000, there will be elderly nursing home residents and hospitals filled with seriously or terminally ill patients. But these same people are likely not going to BM. The conditions required to go to BM will also select for people who are (generally speaking) financially better off than average, as well as healthy enough to withstand a week in the desert.


You're right, Candybox. So this goes to show us how impossible it is to guess at this, or to compare BRC with any other city, in any way. Which is why it's hard to fathom what the actual figures could be.
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Re: Death count at Burning Man

Postby cosmicchild » Fri Sep 07, 2012 7:21 pm

AntiM wrote:The Comfort and Joy suicide, and Kathy Lampman falling under the art car trailer, those two for sure. Wasn't there a plane crash one year which killed three or four people? And a guy who ran into the Man's flames but died in Reno? An unconfirmed death in a tent, overdose or heart attack, which didn't make the gossip scene? Deaths in Reno hospitals from incidents on the playa and on the road aren't in the official tally.

More on the way out, but only one I've been told of fisthand. The teller of the tale came on the wreck eastbound I-80 and ran over to help, found the woman's arm first. That stuck with me.


Wow, that is chilling.

I would also really like to know how many were fatally injured, or even seriously injured, on the Playa. Maybe it's a fruitless search for knowledge when I should just be content with the memory of my amazing experience at Burning Man this year, but the information I'm looking for isn't going to change that memory or how I feel about the event. I just realized, it's strange - It's not like I check up on statistics in my own city. I guess the reason I want to know all of this is because I felt closer to all the people at BM than I do in this city, and I want to honor the memory of those who lost their lives during the event, even if I never physically met them. And actually, it's one of the best possible ways I can think of to go.
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Re: Death count at Burning Man

Postby theCryptofishist » Fri Sep 07, 2012 7:26 pm

The Reno papers will have it. They will also have the citations (arrest?) count for each year. Takes a little work on your part, but if you're interested you don't have to rely on our hazy memories.
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Re: Death count at Burning Man

Postby Savannah » Fri Sep 07, 2012 9:35 pm

cosmicchild wrote:Sorry to be morbid, but I'm very curious about the death count at Burning Man each year, and it seems very hard to find real information on the subject. This year was my first Burn, and it was joyous and wonderful, and while there I heard about the death of one skydiver on the Playa. I wondered quietly how many others might be perishing within our community.

A few days before I left for my first Burning Man, I started to freak out a little bit, and one reason (of many) was about the possibility of death. I searched the internet for as much information as possible, and found only a couple of firsthand accounts and rumors of deaths experienced on the Playa. No hard numbers, and no information directly from Burning Man. From what I have read, I understand that Black Rock City does experience a few deaths of its residents each year, and the proportion to "real" cities is much lower. But if Black Rock City is a real city, even for just a week, shouldn't its residents be able to easily research these kinds of statistics?

The ticket states that we risk injury and death, and cannot hold Burning Man responsible. Of course it's a negative subject, one that can bring all the beauty of Burning Man to a screeching halt. But with all the FAQs and preparation articles that this website provides, and the disclaimer on the tickets, why does it seem like the death toll is ignored or purposely kept confidential? Should or should this not be public information?


Your short search for information does not equal a cover up. :)

You want what is known as the AfterBurn Report, Emergency Services Department section. Deaths on playa are recorded. Fatal injuries resulting ultimately in death are also recorded, as are all other ordinary treatments and transports at ESD Stations 3, 9 and Center Camp.

Example! (c. 2011)

Medical Branch
The entire ESD management team was pleased to welcome Humboldt General Hospital (HGH) to the playa to provide our advanced medical care at the Rampart clinic (a homage to the old EMS television series "Emergency!" from the 1970s) in 2011. For the first time, medical was equipped with laboratory, radiology, and ultrasound services. This had a positive impact on decreasing the numbers of people requiring medical transport to Reno to rule out a condition or injury.

ESD and HGH together logged 5,748 patient contacts in 2011, 1,048 (19%) more patients than in 2010, with a peak combined patient volume of 1,125 patients (25% increase over 2010) seen on Saturday, September 2. Most of these patients were walk-ins with minor medical issues.

Of the 5,748 patient contacts, 5,011 presented themselves to ESD or HGH for medical care while 737 required emergency response units from ESD and HGH to respond in the field, a 31% increase over 2010. This total averages to one EMS call in the field approximately every 20 minutes. We posit that the increase in call volume was only partially due to anticipated annual increases but also partially due to having HGH fully integrated into our dispatching system which allowed for capturing more accurate statistics than in the past.

Approximately 38% of the total patient volume involved minor injuries such as blisters or cuts. Other less common patient categories included dehydration (6.1% of total patients), orthopedic injuries (6.9%), wound rechecks (2.8%), and eye problems (5.3%). Other medical care categories included urinary tract infections (3.6%), difficulty breathing (1.2%), abdominal pain/diarrhea (2.6%), burns (2.1%), allergies/insect bites (3.3%), headaches (1.8%), and lacerations requiring sutures (2.1%). All other chief complaint categories were at or below 1%. The numbers for alcohol- and drug-related patients continue to be remarkably low for an event of this size. In 2011 ESD and HGH treated a total of 57 drug related patients (0.9%), and 85 total alcohol-related patients (1.6%). These numbers do not necessarily represent drug and/or alcohol overdoses, only patients for whom drugs or alcohol were the primary reason for seeking medical care.

Of the 33 patients transported to Reno hospitals for additional care in 2011 (a decrease of 27% from 2010), 28 were stable patients transported by ground ambulance, and 5 (a 55% decrease from 2010) were deemed critical enough to be flown out by helicopter. The decreased need to transport patients off playa can be attributed at least in part to the availability of diagnostic equipment such as lab tests, x-ray, and ultrasound on playa, services previously unavailable on playa.

Unfortunately, in a city of over 50,000 people, unwanted outcomes are inevitable. There was a single cardiac arrest but with swift intervention a return of spontaneous circulation was achieved. The patient was transported to a hospital in Reno and showed signs of having a positive outcome 24 hours later. Another participant who sought treatment for a headache was ultimately transported to Reno and diagnosed with an acute subarachnoid bleed. It was reported that the patient expired after life support was discontinued.


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Re: Death count at Burning Man

Postby jkisha » Fri Sep 07, 2012 9:46 pm

brcprincess wrote:I remember a suicide a few years back.

Ya, they thought it was performance art, so he just hung there for awhile until someone realized he was dead. Probably would have realized it sooner, but there are no flies on the playa.

I was watching Ustream as a huge art car went buy and some gal jumped the front of the car, couldn't be seen by the driver or anyone else riding. She was just jumping and dancing and wobbling precariously. I was sure I'd see her fall off and get rolled over and killed, but the vehicle went out of frame. I guess I'll read about that one in the afterburn.
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Re: Death count at Burning Man

Postby Onion » Sat Sep 08, 2012 2:07 am

I actually saw the sky diver come down with a tangled chute on Wednesday afternoon. I heard later from a ranger that he lived.
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Re: Death count at Burning Man

Postby knowmad » Sat Sep 08, 2012 2:26 am

Please don't be morbid jerks.
If you don't understand the afterburn report, or media disclosure proceses, or statistics; then, you are speculating.
Respect life, even in death.

Real burners will let this thread die (sink).
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Re: Death count at Burning Man

Postby jkisha » Sat Sep 08, 2012 7:25 am

knowmad wrote:Please don't be morbid jerks.
If you don't understand the afterburn report, or media disclosure proceses, or statistics; then, you are speculating.
Respect life, even in death.

Real burners will let this thread die (sink).

"real burners"? Really? :shock:
Barbie Death Camp?!
*rolling eyes*
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Re: Death count at Burning Man

Postby Dr. Pyro » Sat Sep 08, 2012 7:54 am

jkisha wrote:
Real burners will let this thread die (sink).
"real burners"? Really? :shock:
Barbie Death Camp?!
*rolling eyes*


What the hell does that exactly mean?
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Re: Death count at Burning Man

Postby jkisha » Sat Sep 08, 2012 8:41 am

Dr. Pyro wrote:
jkisha wrote:
Real burners will let this thread die (sink).
"real burners"? Really? :shock:
Barbie Death Camp?!
*rolling eyes*


What the hell does that exactly mean?

Though I'm not that fond of you doc (and maybe this is just because we got off on the wrong foot), I LOVE BDC. I will never forget seeing it for the first time my first year and it is almost always a camp I mention when talking to friends that ask about Burning Man. It takes irreverence to a level I never believed possible.

I just thought it ironic that a "real burner" could appreciate BDC and yet not find other discussions on taboo subjects acceptable. Could you have thought of a better example to make that point?
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Re: Death count at Burning Man

Postby Foxfur » Sat Sep 08, 2012 8:51 am

Dr. Pyro wrote:
jkisha wrote:
Real burners will let this thread die (sink).
"real burners"? Really? :shock:
Barbie Death Camp?!
*rolling eyes*


What the hell does that exactly mean?

Does BDC have root beer floats?
I didn't think so...
(Ouch! My tongue just went right through my cheek :D )

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Re: Death count at Burning Man

Postby jkisha » Sat Sep 08, 2012 9:10 am

Foxfur wrote:
Dr. Pyro wrote:
jkisha wrote:
Real burners will let this thread die (sink).
"real burners"? Really? :shock:
Barbie Death Camp?!
*rolling eyes*


What the hell does that exactly mean?

Does BDC have root beer floats?
I didn't think so...
(Ouch! My tongue just went right through my cheek :D )

BDC, with three blocks of pure and unadulterated inclusion, reeks of "Real Burners". The streets flow with it.

:D
Hey, did you see our camp was mentioned with a picture in the WSJ? http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10000872396390444772804577622482678456976.html
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Re: Death count at Burning Man

Postby theCryptofishist » Sat Sep 08, 2012 9:13 am

jkisha wrote:
brcprincess wrote:I remember a suicide a few years back.

Ya, they thought it was performance art, so he just hung there for awhile until someone realized he was dead. Probably would have realized it sooner, but there are no flies on the playa.

No they didn't! Don't take stupid media reports as fact, especially when it comes to the burn. That ugly little inaccuracy is going to follow us around forever. Don't pull it along.
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Re: Death count at Burning Man

Postby jkisha » Sat Sep 08, 2012 9:34 am

theCryptofishist wrote:
jkisha wrote:
brcprincess wrote:I remember a suicide a few years back.

Ya, they thought it was performance art, so he just hung there for awhile until someone realized he was dead. Probably would have realized it sooner, but there are no flies on the playa.

No they didn't! Don't take stupid media reports as fact, especially when it comes to the burn. That ugly little inaccuracy is going to follow us around forever. Don't pull it along.

I didnt hear that story from the media. It was camp news shortly after it happened. The way the story was told to me, it was totally believable. Though as it wasn't eye-witness knowledge, I couldn't swear to it in court.
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Re: Death count at Burning Man

Postby knowmad » Sat Sep 08, 2012 11:39 am

jkisha wrote:
knowmad wrote:Please don't be morbid jerks.
If you don't understand the afterburn report, or media disclosure proceses, or statistics; then, you are speculating.
Respect life, even in death.

Real burners will let this thread die (sink).

"real burners"? Really? :shock:
Barbie Death Camp?!
*rolling eyes*


What the hell is that even suposed to mean?
Just because I camped with BDV?
wtf?
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