[Editor’s Note: We are re-sharing this post as it seems to be getting some attention today in light of the passing of Prince.]
Does April Go Hand in Hand With Tragedy?
Over the weekend, the thought crossed my mind, well, it’s almost mid-April, time for a tragedy to happen. And I’m not a pessimist by nature. It’s just started to feel the last few years like mid-April is circled on the calendar with “Tragedy!” written across it in big red letters. But surely it’s not really that way–it just feels like it. Right?
The Definition of Tragedy
That means it’s time to count. To compare how April events stack up next to the rest of the year. The hard part is criteria. History is vast. For my sanity, with some other GeekMoms’ help, I narrowed it down to this. Events must:
- Have happened between the 15th and the 20th of the month.
- Caused fatalities.
- Be in the US.
We made an exception for “in the US” on the Titanic but counted only American deaths. (Not entirely consistent, but compromise.) I also excluded war deaths, which is largely excluded by the “in the US” part, but this notably cuts out the Battle of Antietam, the bloodiest one-day battle in US history, killing 23,000 on September 17. In fact, these criteria exclude quite a few notable historic events in those date ranges, including:
And of course, I almost certainly missed some things that are similar to others here, but I think it’s safe to assume I would miss them equally across the calendar, so we’ll call it a wash. (This is hardly deep scientific inquiry.)
The Hard Facts on Tragedy in April, According To Our Criteria
Here’s a comparison of that date range in each month with the number of fatal, tragic events in blue and the number of deaths in red:
As it turns out… April does stand out a bit. I also learned I’m not sure I want to travel on July 17 again (see table below). That leaves the question of why.
There is at least one April event due to connection–the Oklahoma City bombing was in part a reaction to what happened at Waco two years earlier.
The August events are clearly seasonal, weather-related. But other than that, there’s not a lot of pattern here, which makes it that much more interesting. Of course, the proximity of anniversaries on the calendar is not really a sign of anything, and I truly expected my counting to show more evenness across the year.
I’m not at all suggesting there are deep, mystical forces at work or some connection like a blue box always showing up for Christmas in London. It’s just interesting to see.
For reference, here’s the list of events I used:
||Tri-State Tornado, (deadliest in US history)