Death by Numbers: Benton’s 2015 Death Toll, Crunched


Death weighs heavy—not only on the hearts and minds of those left behind, but literally. Bodies mean mass, and burials mean massive bills. To understand the weight of what’s left behind by our region’s deceased, here is last year’s death toll in Benton County, crunched.

Preliminary reports from 2015 mark a total of 550 deaths in Benton County. That’s 550 bodies needing burial space or cremation, along with respective costs. According to local funeral and cremation service provider McHenry Funeral Home, the average cost of a funeral is $5,000. If each of the 550 deceased had an average funeral last year, the combined costs would be in the $2.75 million range.

An average burial plot is around two and a half feet wide by eight feet long. For Benton County’s 550 deceased, that’s roughly 11,000 square feet of ground space, or roughly five times the floor space of an average three-bedroom home.

The remains of a cremated adult male average 6 pounds; 4 pounds for females. If all 550 deceased were cremated, the combined ashes would weigh about 2,750 pounds, figuring on 5 pounds per body. The combined mass would be equal in weight to a Plymouth Voyager, or about half as much as a fully grown giraffe.

These figures are disproportionate to those deceased under the age of 18. Last year, there were two infant deaths and two deaths of children between ages 10 and 17. Of the 550 deceased, most were found to be from natural causes—approximately 501. Ten lives were taken via suicide and one via homicide, compared with neighboring Linn County, which saw 20 suicides and four homicides, but whose total death count more than doubled our own at 1,279 deceased.

Other causes of death were unintended injuries, taking a total of 33 lives in Benton County in 2015, and undetermined intent, claiming three lives. Thankfully, no lives were lost due to legal intervention.

By Stevie Beisswanger