Almost a third of Britons have had a near death experience

05 May 2015

Recently, we conducted research which revealed that almost a third of Britons have had a near death experience.

Near death experience

The most common circumstance for a near death experience was voted as a near-miss traffic collision. Also in the top five were ‘severe illness’ and ‘during childbirth’. The study also revealed that of the 70% who had re-evaluated their life following their near death experience, the majority had wanted to change their job.  

We polled 2,458 British adults during the study, all aged 18 or over, with an even number of male and female respondents. We conducted the study as part of ongoing research into the British public’s attitudes towards death and the impact of near death experiences on the lives of those who have experienced them.

Initially, we asked whether they had ever had a near death experience (including any near misses that could have had a fatal outcome), to which 31% said that they had. We then asked them to detail the circumstances in which their near death experience had occurred. Respondents were able to select all answers that they felt were applicable (if they’d had more than one), which revealed the below top five:

  1. Near-miss road collision – 52%
  2. Following surgery – 45%
  3. Involved in a road collision – 36%
  4. Following a severe illness – 28%
  5. During childbirth – 16%

The survey then asked all those who’d had a near death experience whether it had made them re-evaluate any aspects of their life, to which 70% said that it had. We then asked which aspects they had re-evaluated following their near death experience. They could pick more than one answer if it was applicable. The majority said that they had looked to change their job, 41% had re-evaluated their financial situation and 38% had re-evaluated their relationship. 25% said that they had thought more about travelling following a near death experience and 19% said that it had prompted them to think about their arrangements for the future.

Finally, we questioned their attitude to risk; 42% of the relevant respondents actually said that they felt more of a risk-taker after their near death experience. 34% felt less of a risk-taker and the remaining people were unsure either way.

When faced with difficult circumstances, it can often prompt us to think differently about ways in which we conduct our lives and none more so than a near death experience. When a situation like that occurs, it can help people appreciate things that perhaps they took for granted before and offer an alternate view on life, which has come through in these results.

The results also show just how fragile life can be. We encourage everyone to bear this in mind, and to appreciate all that life offers us and the opportunities we have to make sure our loved ones are taken care of should the worst happen – this could be in the form of Wills, savings/investments or pre-arranged funeral plans.