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Author Topic: Falling to one's death
Rheyn
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RESEARCH QUESTION:
What is the minimum height from which someone could fall/jump and die, excluding the idea that they should land on their head or break their neck?

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Jason Threadslayer
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A neighbour died from tripping and falling.

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Seaboe Muffinchucker
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In line with Jason's example, remember that if an adult male of average height (5'8") trips and falls down, his head has fallen approx. five feet by the time it hits the ground.

Or do you want to know the minimum one could fall and expect to die?

Seaboe

ET specify "average height"

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I saw Mommy kismet Santa Claus
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Depends on/in what surface they land: pillows, an ocean or lake, a vat of acid, concrete, shards of glass, the open mouth of a hungry monster.

But really, if you fell or jumped and died, what would cause death if you didn't break your neck or hit your head?

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BoKu
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This has been covered on one of the rock climbing forums I frequent; I'll see what I can dig up.
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Jason Threadslayer
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quote:
Originally posted by kismet:
But really, if you fell or jumped and died, what would cause death if you didn't break your neck or hit your head?

In the movie Spellbound, a child was sitting on a brick wall lining stairs when his brother pushed him down the slope. The boy slide down and fell over an iron fence, impaling him.

Blood loss (external or internal) ought to do the job, too.

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GooglyEyes
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Falling Waffles
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GooglyEyes
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quote:
Originally posted by kismet:
But really, if you fell or jumped and died, what would cause death if you didn't break your neck or hit your head?

You could fall hard enough to break bones which then tear through organs. Lungs can puncture pretty easily with a splintered rib. Then you'd drown in your own blood. Yummy!

Also, if you fell from high enough, the force exerted outward from the inside of your body would cause everything inside to just *SQUIRT* out. Read accounts of the people who jumped from the WTC. Bleh.

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Silas Sparkhammer
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I remember the "Falling Damage" wars in the early years of Dragon Magazine. It got so bad, the editor declared a moratorium, automatically rejecting any further discussion of the subject!

For my part, I went to the library and looked up insurance assessments of accidental death from falling: this was of no use at all, as a fall from a height (let's say, 35 feet, because I don't remember the figure from the source) was defined as "0-99% fatal." i.e., who the hell knows?

A perfectly healthy bloke *could* die from brain damage after his head has fallen only six inches onto a hard surface. Sure, he'd probably only get a headache, or maybe a concussion. But even an "ordinary" concussion can kill.

Meanwhile, skydivers have survived falling from thousands of feet when their 'chutes malfunction.

If anyone has statistics suggesting the height from which a fall is "LD50," I'd love to know it!

(But the editors of Dragon Magazine would not!)

Silas

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Joe Bentley
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I've always heard that any fall from greater then your height is dangerous, but that might just be a rule of thumb and not anything concrete.

As Silas mentioned they are documentated case of people falling out of airplanes, usually skydivers, and living to tale the tale.

The record for surviving a free fall was set in 1972 when a stewardess named Vesna Vulovic fell 10,160 feet inside the tail section of a DC-9 the exploded over Czechoslovakia.

However it is important to remember that after about 1,800 feet or so the human body reaches terminal velocity, so after that distance doesn't really matter.

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Tirisfal Pumpkin
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Recently here in Sydney a woman tried to commit suicide by jumping off the fifth (some news stories say sixth) floor of a shopping mall. She landed on another woman walking on the ground floor. Both are now in ICU, but both should survive. although the woman who jumped apparently injured just about every bone and body organ going... but still managed to survive.

(When i say she jumped off the sixth floor, i mean on the inside... you know how you can look down to the levels below, in the empty space in the middle where the escalators are?)

http://www.heraldsun.news.com.au/common/story_page/0,5478,16724444%255E1702,00.html

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Arrow-Tech IV
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Question: In the US, is it against the law to attempt suicide?
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Cervus
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^^ Suicide attempt icon

quote:
Originally posted by Arrow-Tech IV:
Question: In the US, is it against the law to attempt suicide?

No. According to The Straight Dope:

quote:
In the U.S. suicide has never been treated as a crime nor punished by property forfeiture or ignominious burial. (Some states listed it on the books as a felony but imposed no penalty.) Curiously, as of 1963, six states still considered attempted suicide a crime--North and South Dakota, Washington, New Jersey, Nevada, and Oklahoma.


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Jason Threadslayer
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quote:
Originally posted by Silas Sparkhammer:
If anyone has statistics suggesting the height from which a fall is "LD50," I'd love to know it!

I read somewhere that a fall from 6 m is about 50% fatal.

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Jason Threadslayer
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Falls from Elevation from National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.

Worker Deaths by Falls (from part 1, pg 17):

quote:
Overall, the mean height of the fall was 41 feet, and the median was 28. Eight percent of the workers for whom fall height was known fell 10 feet or less; 22% fell more than 50 feet (Figure 6). In four of the six falls from ladders, the worker fell 20 feet or less. The 16 fatalities which were falls of 15 feet or less were evenly distributed among falls from ladders, scaffolds, roofs, floors, and vehicles. Twelve of the 26 falls from roofs (46%) were from heights of 21 to 30 feet. Eight of the 17 falls from scaffolding (47%) were from heights of 46 feet or more.


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woohmom
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Instant death or just eventually because of the fall? I've seen lots of elderly people who were doing great and then after a fall resulting in a broken hip went downhill and died pretty quick.

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Damian
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quote:
Originally posted by kismet:
Depends on/in what surface they land: pillows, an ocean or lake, a vat of acid, concrete, shards of glass, the open mouth of a hungry monster.

Would it make a difference it the monster was not hungry?

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I saw Mommy kismet Santa Claus
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quote:
Originally posted by Damian:
quote:
Originally posted by kismet:
Depends on/in what surface they land: pillows, an ocean or lake, a vat of acid, concrete, shards of glass, the open mouth of a hungry monster.

Would it make a difference it the monster was not hungry?
Of course. If he was full, he'd spit you back out. You'd be damp, but alive.
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Damian
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quote:
Originally posted by Rheyn:
RESEARCH QUESTION:
What is the minimum height from which someone could fall/jump and die?

Actually, the height of the fall has no relationship to the fatality rate. It's the sudden stop that does all the damage. [Smile]

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abigsmurf
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quote:
Originally posted by Arrow-Tech IV:
Question: In the US, is it against the law to attempt suicide?

at one time in the UK it was punishable by hanging.
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BoKu
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I found the rock climbing forum post I was thinking of.
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Seaboe Muffinchucker
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quote:
Originally posted by Cervus:
quote:
Originally posted by Arrow-Tech IV:
Question: In the US, is it against the law to attempt suicide?

No. According to The Straight Dope:

quote:
In the U.S. suicide has never been treated as a crime nor punished by property forfeiture or ignominious burial. (Some states listed it on the books as a felony but imposed no penalty.) Curiously, as of 1963, six states still considered attempted suicide a crime--North and South Dakota, Washington, New Jersey, Nevada, and Oklahoma.

I think you mean (with your "no" statement) that suicide is not a crime. Your quote otherwise contradicts your statement.

Seaboe

ETC spelling

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Felessan
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quote:
Originally posted by Joe Bentley:
I've always heard that any fall from greater then your height is dangerous, but that might just be a rule of thumb and not anything concrete.

As Silas mentioned they are documentated case of people falling out of airplanes, usually skydivers, and living to tale the tale.

The record for surviving a free fall was set in 1972 when a stewardess named Vesna Vulovic fell 10,160 feet inside the tail section of a DC-9 the exploded over Czechoslovakia.

However it is important to remember that after about 1,800 feet or so the human body reaches terminal velocity, so after that distance doesn't really matter.

I think you mean 10,160 metres - 'cos there are at least two cases of greater falls.

Nicholas Alkemade was the rear gunner on an RAF Lancaster shot down over Germany in 1943. Unable to reach his parachute in the blazing bomber, he threw himself out rather than burn. He woke up in a snowdrift in a pine forest, uninjured after a fall of 18,000 feet, and was taken prisoner.

According to Guinness (and my memory), a WW2 Soviet bomber pilot survived a fall from 22,000 feet after he glanced off the edge of a valley and rolled down into snowdrifts. He suffered a broken pelvis and spinal injuries.

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Seaboe Muffinchucker
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OSHA requires fall protection for any potential fall of 6' or more (although I could've sworn it was 4').

Seaboe

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Pseudo_Croat
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Looking at the rock-climbing thread that BoKu posted, I noticed that falls from even 10' can break a limb or two. How do you take broken limbs or spines into account in 3rd edition D&D rules?

- Pseudo_Croat

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Rheyn
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I am looking for "instant death," and the minimum if one were to jump out an office building window could expect to die. I am looking for the minimum height that would almost certainly guarantee death...

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Seaboe Muffinchucker
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Well, Rheyn, I think you can tell from the posts in this thread that there's no guarantee of death from any height.

According to this report, where the height of the fatal fall was known,
quote:
Overall, the mean height of the fall was 41 feet, and the median height was 28. Eight percent of the workers...fell 10 feet or less; 22% fell more than 50 feet. In four of the six falls from ladders, the worker fell 20 feet or less. The 16 fatalities which were falls of 15 feet or less were evenly distributed among falls from ladders, scaffolds, roofs, floors and vehicles. Twelve of the 26 falls from roofs (46%) were from heights of 21 to 30 feet. Eight of the 17 falls from scaffolding (47%) were from heights of 46 feet or more.
(from page 17 of the report)

Seaboe

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ParaDiddle
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There may be a problem with how the question is phrased. The minimum is 0.001 feet or somewhere therabouts. A fatal injury can result from a fall of only a few (or a fraction of) inches. Central Nervous System trauma that results in death can occur from as few as 18 inches. A seated person cant fain/fall and strike thier head or cause damage to an autonomic system which could result in death.

In Emergency Medical Services a patient who has survived a fall of approx. 15 feet is treated under ALS-Advanced Life Support (paramedic) protocols as opposed to BLS-Basic Life Support (EMT/First Responder). The upgrade in protocol is because a fall from that height is considered potentially lethal. The survivor of such a fall is considered in danger of death.

Despite your attmpt to restate the question in your most recent post, I still need you to clarify a few points. If I may; What height would all but guarantee death in a healthy human adult falling unrestricted (by air current or solid objects acting as decelerating agents) onto an unyielding surface? Top-o-my-head, thirty feet.

Having said that, I know of a firefighter who fell 35 feet onto a concrete surface but lingered for hours before she expired. She did recieve immediate ALS treatment. Nothing is quite so absolute as your original question seems to assume.

Silas used the correct term above and that is "LD 50%". It is likely that death occured (LD) in at least 50% of an instance under given circumstances. If you're publishing research based on the question in the OP, be sure to phrase it properly or your results may be meaningless.

- P

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Mr. Baggins
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This one is easy. It all depends on your level.

Damage is 1d6 for every 10 feet of fall. So, a median of 3.5 hit points. Depending on your level and Constitution, you should be able to work out what kind of fall you can survive.

(I'll get it myself, Silas, thanks [fish] )

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Mr. Baggins
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Rheyn, the question is somewhat confusing. Sounds to me like you are writing a story (God, I hope that's it). Going from personal experience, it depends on what you want the person to die of.

You have discarded neck and head injuries, which can be fatal from very low heights. Assuming you don't want the landing site to be a factor (so, no acidic dives and no hungry monsters), you are looking at ruptured internal organs and/or a broken spine. Those are possible (altough not very likely) from a mere two-story fall, if you fall the wrong way.

Does that help?

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Pseudo_Croat
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quote:
Originally posted by Mr. Baggins:
Damage is 1d6 for every 10 feet of fall. So, a median of 3.5 hit points. Depending on your level and Constitution, you should be able to work out what kind of fall you can survive.

Well, that's simple enough and can determine if a fall is lethal or not. But how are you going to take real-world injuries like broken bones and organ damage into account in a D&D game?

- Pseudo_Croat

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Kahdra
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quote:
Originally posted by Pseudo_Croat:
quote:
Originally posted by Mr. Baggins:
Damage is 1d6 for every 10 feet of fall. So, a median of 3.5 hit points. Depending on your level and Constitution, you should be able to work out what kind of fall you can survive.

Well, that's simple enough and can determine if a fall is lethal or not. But how are you going to take real-world injuries like broken bones and organ damage into account in a D&D game?

- Pseudo_Croat

The beauty is the simplicity. As long as your character has a positive number of hit points, your character is fully functional. Once you take enough damage to go negative, you are unconscious or dead (death usually occurs at -10). It isn't terribly realistic, but adding realism would complicate the game to the point that it would be a lot less entertaining.

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Pseudo_Croat
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/|\ Rules lawyer.

quote:
Originally posted by Kahdra:
The beauty is the simplicity. As long as your character has a positive number of hit points, your character is fully functional. Once you take enough damage to go negative, you are unconscious or dead (death usually occurs at -10). It isn't terribly realistic, but adding realism would complicate the game to the point that it would be a lot less entertaining.

But I'd like to add more realism in the game. I'm tired of characters that fight just as well at 1 hp as they do at full hp and hp systems that are too abstract. I want more realistic injuries and such. So I ask for about the third time: How would I take broken bones and internal organ damage into account in a D&D setting?

- Pseudo (after all, they have rules for heat and cold exposure in 3rd edition, so why not this?) Croat

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"At all events, people who deny the influence of smaller nations should remember that the Croats have the rest of us by the throats." - Norman Davies, Europe: A History

God wants spiritual fruits, not religious nuts.

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Mr. Baggins
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quote:
Originally posted by Pseudo_Croat:
/|\ Rules lawyer.

quote:
Originally posted by Kahdra:
The beauty is the simplicity. As long as your character has a positive number of hit points, your character is fully functional. Once you take enough damage to go negative, you are unconscious or dead (death usually occurs at -10). It isn't terribly realistic, but adding realism would complicate the game to the point that it would be a lot less entertaining.

But I'd like to add more realism in the game. I'm tired of characters that fight just as well at 1 hp as they do at full hp and hp systems that are too abstract. I want more realistic injuries and such. So I ask for about the third time: How would I take broken bones and internal organ damage into account in a D&D setting?

- Pseudo (after all, they have rules for heat and cold exposure in 3rd edition, so why not this?) Croat

If you really, really, really, want to, check this out .

Warning: Not safe for non-geeks. A degree in Math would really help [Smile]

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Richard W
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Surely there must be a concept of "broken leg" in D&D rules already?

If not, then you could look for a different gaming system that does include rules for broken leg. (edit) I've definitely seen systems that have individual hit points for body parts. Runequest and spinoffs maybe?

Or you could use common sense to estimate something. Perhaps somebody with a broken leg wouldn't be able to move during combat, and since they would be in pain and immobilized they would have large attack and defence penalties.

If they're not in combat then why do you need rules? They wouldn't be able to walk without a crutch or support; ideally they'd need a stretcher and if you want to be graphic about the injury then just use your imagination. If you decide they're losing blood from an injury then they could drain X many hit-points per minute or something.

Posts: 8725 | From: Ipswich - the UK's 9th Best Place to Sleep! | Registered: Feb 2000  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a moderator
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