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What Are the Common Causes of Skydiving Fatalities?

Amanda R. Bell
Amanda R. Bell

Despite the fact that, statistically, skydiving is considered one of the safer extreme sports, there is still a risk of death. Some of the most common causes of skydiving fatalities are issues with a person’s landing or malfunctions with the skydiving equipment. Fatalities can also be caused by collisions between skydivers or as the result of a skydiver not deploying his or her parachute.

Landing improperly, whether due to an error by the skydiver, running into something on the ground, or turbulence, is typically the most common cause of skydiving fatalities. While most divers are taught how to land safely, this is not always possible for any number of reasons, and an improper landing can result in too-hard of an impact with the ground. It is also relatively common for turbulence to cause a skydiver to hit the ground too hard, resulting in death.

Skydiving fatalities are rare.
Skydiving fatalities are rare.

Skydiving equipment has a fair amount of safeguards built into it, including a main canopy and a reserve canopy in the event that the main does not deploy properly or in time. Modern parachutes also typically have an Automatic Activation Device (AAD) that will release the main or reserve canopy automatically in the event that the skydiver cannot. Despite all of these safety measures, equipment malfunctions do happen sometimes. The parachutes may deploy incorrectly or not at all, causing damage to the canopy itself or resulting in improper support of the skydiver’s weight, which can cause him or her to land too hard or be unable to land in a safe location.

Skydivers increase air resistance by spreading out their bodies.
Skydivers increase air resistance by spreading out their bodies.

In some cases, the chances of skydiving fatalities increase when large groups of skydivers jump together. Despite each person jumping individually with delays in between, there is a risk of collisions in the air. This can cause a person not to be able to deploy his or her parachute or can cause two or more parachute lines to become tangled, resulting in a crash landing. Even if the lines do not become tangled, a collision between parachutes can cause rips in the main or reserve canopies, also resulting in a crash.

Occasionally, skydiving fatalities are caused by the skydiver not deploying his or her parachute. This can be due to a skydiver panicking or passing out shortly after jumping, and either he or she does not have an ADD or the device fails. In rare cases, a skydiver will jump without intending to deploy his or her canopy, resulting in skydiving fatalities due to suicide.

Discussion Comments


I won't even go bungee jumping, so there is no way I could ever go skydiving. I have a fear of heights, and even climbing all the way to the top of a ladder makes my palms sweat! Also, I don't want to risk death.


I can't believe that anyone would commit suicide by skydiving! What a terrible way to go!

Granted, there would be a rush and a great view, but imagine knowing as you get closer to the ground that there is no way out. What if you changed your mind when you were too far down to open your parachute?


@lighth0se33 – My uncle went skydiving last year, and he told me about how the automatic device works. It is a computer that can tell its own altitude, and this is how it knows when to deploy the parachute.

When you reach a certain height, it shoots this sharp object out that cuts the cord and releases your parachute. It's pretty accurate and a great backup plan to have.

I would be afraid of bumping into another skydiver. The device can handle this, though. If you are injured or knocked out, it will send out the parachute for you.


Wow, how does the automatic device know when to deploy the parachute? Is it set to deploy after a certain amount of time has passed, or can it sense the altitude that it is at?

I would probably be one of those unlucky few who pass out in the air from panic or fear. I know better than to jump from a plane because of this!

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    • Skydiving fatalities are rare.
      Skydiving fatalities are rare.
    • Skydivers increase air resistance by spreading out their bodies.
      By: Joggie Botma
      Skydivers increase air resistance by spreading out their bodies.