The California Department of Health recently released the 2012 version of its annual “County Health Status Profiles” report, and once again the news is grim, grim, grim on the home front. Overall, Humboldt County is the second-deadliest place in California. 

On average, almost 1 percent of all Humboldters transcended this mortal plane each year in 2008, 2009 and 2010. Almost 1 percent of all Humboldters transcended this mortal plane in the last three years. That’s over half again as high as the state average. [Whoops — misread that. Ed.]

OK, you say — but we have hella old people around here, right? Nope. The statistic that really matters in these reports is the age-adjusted death rate, wherein health officials make allowances for the relative size of the elderly population in each county. That’s where we really bottom out, folks. On an age-adjusted basis, only Shasta County residents kicked the bucket in greater numbers than we did.

Our poor showing has prompted Richard Kipling of the Annenberg Center for Health Reporting to scratch his head and sigh. Such a beautiful place, he says. Why you gotta die so much?

Chuck Connors, a commenter on Kipling’s blog, provides the answer poetically — and, for my money, accurately.

This not a surprise to me. I worked at the Court System in Eureka for 20 years. There is something odd there, that causes really strange and creative criminal behavior. Beautiful it is, with a dark, dark undercurrent.

Humboldt county’s rankings (out of 58 counties) in 18 key death metrics below. Or you can download the whole sad story at this link. Careful: This is a 98-page, 10 megabyte PDF full of misery. 

  • All cancer: 56
  • Colorectal cancer: 51
  • Lung cancer: 40
  • Breast cancer: 51
  • Prostate cancer: 52
  • Diabetes: 49
  • Alzheimers: 41
  • Heart disease: 39
  • Stroke: 58
  • Influenza/pneumonia: 17
  • Chronic lower respiratory disease: 54
  • Liver disease: 50
  • Accidents: 56
  • Car crashes: 42
  • Suicide: 55
  • Homicide: 38
  • Firearm-related: 52
  • Drug-induced: 57