These Are The 10 Places In North Carolina Where People Die Early

You have a higher chance of dying early if you live in one of these areas in The Tar Heel State

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Are you going to die soon?

The fear of death is always at the top of the list when you ask Americans what they’re most afraid of. It’s something that people take very seriously, and it’s so scary to many that they don’t even want to discuss it.

If you live in North Carolina, even within certain counties, there are real differences in life expectancies. And when you combine different data sets, you can start to see some patterns.

So, we were curious – which North Carolina counties have the biggest chances of death. Or put another way, in which North Carolina counties are you most likely to die soon?

We’re about to find out, using science and data.

After analyzing all 100 jurisdictions, we present the 10 Counties in North Carolina where you’re most likely to die soon:

  1. Lenoir County
  2. Swain County
  3. Scotland County
  4. Richmond County
  5. Vance County
  6. Edgecombe County
  7. Halifax County
  8. Beaufort County
  9. Gaston County
  10. Rockingham County

Read on below to see how we crunched the numbers and how your county ranked.

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How do you decide if a someone will die earlier than others?

In order to rank the counties where people will die first in North Carolina, we had to determine what kills people. Since health problems, criminal activity and accidents make up most deaths, we used those as the basis for our criteria.

How we crunched the numbers

We threw a lot of criteria at this one in order to get the best, most complete results possible. Using the State Center for Health Statistics, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Research, and an analysis by RealtyTrac, this is the criteria we used:

  • Life expectancy by county
  • County level crime ranking
  • County level cancer rates
  • Natural Disaster Risk

If you’d like to see the complete list of counties, from riskiest to die to safest, scroll to the bottom of this post to see the abridged chart.

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1. Lenoir County

Kinston, NC, Lenoir County

Population: 60,049
Major cities: Kinston, Grifton, La Grange, Pink Hill

It wasn’t even close. If you live in Lenoir County, North Carolina, you have a much bigger chance of dying soon than anyone else in the state. Let’s see why.

First of all, the life expectancy for Lenoir County residents is 75.2, which is the 11th lowest of any county we measured.

What really stands out are the crime ranks (Lenoir is ranked as the third most dangerous county in the state by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation) and the instances of cancer per 100,000 people.

Lenoir County has the 2nd highest cancer rates in the state, where 552 people out of 100,000 get cancer every year.

2. Swain County

Bryson City, NC, Swain County

Population: 13,981
Major areas: Bryson City

Way out near the Tennessee state line is Swain County, which is one of the least populated counties in the state. The average life expectancy is 73.6, which is by far the lowest of any county in North Carolina.

The rate of cancer is the 5th highest in the state. 1 in 184 people gets cancer here every year.

The natural disaster rank somewhere in the middle of all the counties we studied.

3. Scotland County

Laurinburg, NC, Scotland County

Population: 36,157
Major areas: Laurinburg, Gibson, Maxton, Wagram

Scotland County is right on the South Carolina border. While the life expectancy figures are the 6th lowest in the state (74.8 years), and crime is the 17th highest in the state, what really set Scotland County apart is the natural disaster rank.

Residents here face the 2nd highest risk at dying at the hands of a hurricane or another of nature’s hit and miss phenomenon.

4. Richmond County

Rockingham, NC, Richmond County

Population: 46,639
Major areas: Hamlet, Rockingham, Dobbins Heights, Ellerbe, Hoffman, Norman

Richmond County is right next to Scotland County, so it isn’t surprising that these two areas share similar numbers. Each has a statistically even chance of being struck by a natural disaster.

Richmond County is the 16th most dangerous county in North Carolina, and has the 20th most instances of cancer per 100,000 people.

If you live in Richmond County, you can expect to live to be under 75 years old.

5. Vance County

Henderson NC, Vance County

Population: 45,222
Major cities: Henderson, Kittrell, Middleburg

If you live in Vance County, you can expect to live to be just under 75 years old when you die. At least that’s the average age for residents who currently live there. That’s the 8th lowest in the state.

1 in 192 people in Vance County gets cancer every year (the last reporting year was 2013). And, crime is certainly a factor in life expectancy here. It’s the 10th most dangerous county in the state.

6. Edgecombe County

Tarboro, NC, Edgecombe County

Population: 56,552
Major cities: Tarboro, Rocky Mount, Leggett, Conetoe, Princeville, Whitakers

The biggest factors that Edgecombe County residents have to think about are crime and natural disasters. This county is the 5th most dangerous in the state of North Carolina. And, RealtyTrac has indicated that this county has the 5th highest chance of being struck by a natural disaster.

The cancer risk is 30th (not too bad, really), but life expectancy is only 75.2 years, which is the 11th lowest of all counties in the Tar Heel State.

7. Halifax County

Halifax, NC, Halifax County

Population: 54,691
Major cities: Halifax, Roanoke Rapids, Enfield, Hobgood, Littleton, Weldon

Halifax County is right on the Virginia border. The life expectancy here is only 74.6 years, which is the 4th lowest of any county we measured.

Crime is the 12th highest here, and 1 in 198 people here gets cancer every year, unfortunately.

8. Beaufort County

Washington, NC, Beaufort County

Population: 47,759
Major cities: Washington, Bath

Right on the Pamlico Sound near the coast is Beaufort County, one of the prettiest places in the state. Unfortunately for the residents who live here, cancer is the 3rd most prominent of any county we measured.

Due to its proximity to the coast, this county has the 10th highest risk for natural disasters. And, it might come as a surprise, but Beaufort County is in the top 25% for crimes in the state.

9. Gaston County

Gastonia, NC, Gastonia County

Population: 206,086
Major cities: Gastonia, Mount Holly, Belmont, Bessemer City, Lowell, Cherryville

Just outside of Charlotte is Gaston County, which is by far the largest county to make this list of places you’re most likely to die in North Carolina.

What gives Gaston County residents such a high chance of dying? It’s ranked as the 7th most susceptible to natural disasters for one. While crime and cancer risks aren’t in the top 10, they are certainly up there.

The life expectancy for folks in Gaston County is 75.6 years, which is the 15th lowest of all counties in the state.

10. Rockingham County

Wentworth, NC, Rockingham County

Population: 93,643
Commute time: Wentworth, Eden, Reidsville, Madison, Mayodan, Stoneville

1 in 184 residents in Rockingham County gets cancer every year, which is the 4th highest rate in the state. While crime is only in the top 30%, Rockingham County has the 19th highest risk for a natural disaster, and folks who live here can only expect to live to be 75.8 on average.

There You Have It

Like we said earlier, trying to determine the places in North Carolina where you have a much higher chance of dying soon is usually a subjective matter. But if you’re analyzing counties where crime is high, cancer rates are dangerous and where natural disaster risks are the worst, this is an accurate list.

If you’re curious enough, here are the most death-defying counties in North Carolina, according to science. Or the places where you are least likely to die soon:

  1. Watauga County
  2. Gates County
  3. Camden County
  4. Avery County
  5. Alleghany County

Below is a chart of the deadliest to the least deadly counties in North Carolina:

City Life Expectancy Rank
Lenoir County 75.2 1
Swain County 73.6 2
Scotland County 74.8 3
Richmond County 74.8 4
Vance County 74.9 5
Edgecombe County 75.2 6
Halifax County 74.6 7
Beaufort County 76.1 8
Gaston County 75.6 9
Rockingham County 75.8 10
Rowan County 75.4 11
Cumberland County 76.3 12
Granville County 78 13
Robeson County 73.9 14
Person County 76.9 14
Anson County 75.1 16
Alamance County 77.3 17
Forsyth County 78.3 18
Northampton County 76.2 19
Guilford County 79 20
Harnett County 76.6 21
Wayne County 77.3 22
Pasquotank County 77.5 23
Davidson County 76.5 24
Caswell County 76.5 24
Burke County 76.4 26
Columbus County 73.6 26
Cleveland County 74.7 26
Nash County 76.7 26
Stanly County 76.9 30
Martin County 75.6 31
Pitt County 78.2 32
Wilson County 77.1 33
Onslow County 78.3 34
Surry County 77.1 35
Hertford County 76.3 36
Iredell County 77.4 37
Pamlico County 77.5 38
Carteret County 78.7 39
Randolph County 76.9 40
Bladen County 75.3 41
Washington County 78.7 42
Sampson County 76.4 43
Rutherford County 75.8 43
Graham County 75.1 43
Jones County 77.3 46
Catawba County 76.8 46
McDowell County 76.6 48
Durham County 79.9 48
Mitchell County 77.4 50
Cabarrus County 78.4 51
Caldwell County 75.8 52
Cherokee County 76.5 53
Stokes County 78 53
Yadkin County 76.8 55
Wilkes County 76.4 56
Jackson County 79.2 57
Craven County 77.9 58
Haywood County 78.1 59
Buncombe County 79.1 60
Yancey County 77.8 61
Madison County 77.9 62
Mecklenburg County 80.4 63
Johnston County 78.2 64
Warren County 78.1 64
Hyde County 80 66
Ashe County 77.5 67
Montgomery County 77.6 68
Davie County 79 69
Franklin County 77.7 70
Pender County 78.4 70
Moore County 80 72
Bertie County 76.6 73
Lincoln County 77.8 74
New Hanover County 79.7 75
Chowan County 78.7 76
Greene County 78.2 77
Lee County 77.7 78
Clay County 78.2 78
Duplin County 78.4 80
Henderson County 79.5 81
Wake County 81.5 81
Alexander County 78.4 83
Currituck County 77.2 83
Dare County 79.6 83
Hoke County 77.5 83
Brunswick County 78.4 87
Tyrrell County 79.4 88
Union County 79.5 89
Macon County 78.3 90
Orange County 82 91
Chatham County 82 92
Polk County 79.7 93
Perquimans County 78.6 94
Transylvania County 80.6 94
Alleghany County 79.8 96
Avery County 79.5 96
Camden County 80.3 98
Gates County 79.4 99
Watauga County 82.2 100

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