July 9th, 2009

If you think you might die young, live fast

The idea that teens do drugs and drive recklessly because they are convinced they’re immortal is a tried-and-true maxim of health teachers everywhere. A new study, conducted by a researcher at University of Minnesota, claims a large minority–15% –of teens believe that they will die before age 35.


And the research supports the hypothesis that this fatalism leads to riskier behavior–these cynical teens are more likely to be diagnosed with AIDS, to attempt suicide, and to injure themselves in fights.

This kind of pessimism doesn’t increase the likelihood of death, however–only a tiny margin of the 20,000 teens surveyed died over the seven years of research. Notably, 30% of Native American and 26% of black teens, compared to 10% of white teens, predicted their own untimely demise.

Many teens believe they’ll die young

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