Outline Of Death

This outline of death article is provided as an overview of and topical guide to death.

Death is the cessation of all biological functions that sustain a living  organism. In most cases, bodies of living organisms begin to decompose shortly after death.

What is death?

Death can be described as all of the following:

  • End of life – life is the characteristic distinguishing physical entities having signaling and self-sustaining processes from those that do not, either because such functions have ceased (Death), or because they lack such functions and are classified as inanimate.
  • (Death is) the opposite of:
    • Life – (see above)
    • Biogenesis – production of new living organisms or organelles. The law of biogenesis, attributed to Louis Pasteur, is the observation that living things come only from other living things, by reproduction (e.g. a spider lays eggs, which develop into spiders).
      • Fertilisation (Conception) – the beginning of an organism’s life, initiated by the fusion of gametes resulting in the development of a new individual organism. In animals, the process involves the fusion of an ovum with a sperm, which eventually leads to the development of an embryo.
      • Birth – act or process of bearing or bringing forth offspring. In mammals, the process is initiated by hormones which cause the muscular walls of the uterus to contract, expelling the fetus at a developmental stage when it is ready to feed and breathe. Commonly considered the beginning of one’s life. “First you are born, then you live life, then you die.”
        • De-extinction – process of creating an organism, which is a member of or resembles an extinct species, or a breeding population of such organisms. Cloning is the most widely proposed method, although selective breeding has also been proposed. Similar techniques have been applied to endangered species. Though we have not yet brought an extinct species back to life
    • Survival – Survival is simply the need to live, the only real purpose of an organism is to generate offspring
      • Indefinite lifespan – term used in the life extension movement and transhumanism to refer to the hypothetical longevity of humans (and other life-forms) under conditions in which aging is effectively and completely prevented and treated. Their lifespans would be “indefinite” (that is, they would not be “immortal”) because protection from the effects of aging on health does not guarantee survival. Such individuals would still be susceptible to accidental or intentional death by disease, starvation, getting hit by a truck, murdered, and so on, but not death from aging, some animals can live forever such as the Turritopsis doohmii jellyfish, or the bowhead whale.
Human life cycle death

Human life cycle

Types of death

  • Individual death – termination of all biological functions within a living organism
  • Extinction – death of an entire species, or more specifically, death of the last member of a species
    • Extinction event – widespread and rapid decrease in the amount of life on Earth. Such an event is identified by a sharp reduction in the diversity and abundance of macroscopic life. Also known as a mass extinction or biotic crisis.
    • Human extinction – hypothesized end of the human species. Various scenarios have been discussed in science, popular culture, and religion (see end time)
    • Local extinction (extirpation) – condition of a species (another taxon) that ceases to exist in the chosen geographic area of study, though it still exists elsewhere. Local extinctions are contrasted with global extinctions. Local extinction can be reversed by reintroduction of the species to the area from other locations; wolf reintroduction is an example of this.

Causes of death

Causes of death, by type

Other classifications of causes of death

Effects of death

  • Effects of the anticipation of death
    • Death anxiety – morbid, abnormal or persistent fear of one’s own death or the process of his/her dying. One definition of death anxiety is a “feeling of dread, apprehension or solicitude (anxiety) when one thinks of the process of dying, or ceasing to ‘be’”. Also known as thanatophobia (fear of death).
    • Mortality salience –
  • Effects on the deceased (and on the cadaver) – “deceased” is short for “deceased person”, which is a person who has died and who is therefore dead. A cadaver is the body of a dead person.
    • End of consciousness – a dead body is no longer awake, but there is the question of where consciousness went to, if anywhere…
    • Cessation of breathing
    • Cardiac arrest – the heart has stopped beating (no pulse)
    • Pallor mortis – paleness which happens in the 15–120 minutes after death
    • Livor mortis – settling of the blood in the lower (dependent) portion of the body
    • Algor mortis – reduction in body temperature following death. This is generally a steady decline until matching ambient temperature
    • Rigor mortis – limbs of the corpse become stiff (Latin rigor) and difficult to move or manipulate
    • Decomposition – reduction into simpler forms of matter, accompanied by a strong, unpleasant odor.
    • Other (possible) effects
    • Treatment of corpses
      • In the wild
        • Consumed by predators (if those predators made the kill) – a predator is an organism that hunts and then eats its prey
        • Consumed by scavengers – a scavenger is an animal that feeds on dead animal and/or plant material present in its habitat
        • Decomposed by detritivores – detritivores are organisms which recycle detritus, returning it to the environment for reuse in the food chain. Examples of detritivores include earthworms, woodlice and dung beetles.
        • Fossilization
        • Catagenesis
      • In society
  • Effects on others

History of death

Philosophy and death

Death and culture

Death and culture

Medical field and death

Further information: § Effects of death

Politics of death

Legalities of death

Life and Death

Life and Death

Religion and death

Main articles: Respect For The Dead, and Veneration of The Dead
See also: Death in Norse Paganism, Taoism and Death, Thanatos (Greek mythology)






Death care industry

Death care industry – companies and organizations that provide services related to death (i.e., funerals, cremation or burial, and memorials).

Science of death

Psychology of death

Demography of death

Hypnosis Clairvoyance Couple Wedding Yoga People


Paranormal concepts pertaining to death

Death-related organizations

Death-related publications

Dead people

Immortality of the Soul


  • Preventable causes of death
  • Coffin birth
  • Post-mortem interval
  • Promession
  • Resomation
  • Cause of death
  • Death-qualified jury
  • Dying declaration
  • Faked death
  • Inquest
  • Suspicious death
After death

See also

Adapted from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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