14 People Who Died From Their Hoarding Addictions

What’s the difference, really, between having an intense VHS collection and having an addiction to hoarding? How do experts define having a "problem" with discarding possessions? Don't most people have mental and emotion attachments to the things that they own? In large part the result of shows like the wildly popular Hoarders, television viewers have come to see this frightening form of mental illness as something that only happens to completely crazy people living in rural areas. But the truth of the matter is that hoarders exist in so many different varieties that many would-be hoarders might not even know that they're a single purchase or a lingering piece of mail away from being formally classified as suffering from the condition.

Sure, most people – even if they are avid collectors of some peculiar item – aren’t stacking up newspapers to their ceilings until they fall over and crush them, but, according to experts, collecting something until it physically crushes you isn't the necessary precondition for being considered a hoarder. A hoarding addiction can come from out of anywhere; some people are natural shut-ins, while other hoarders are dealing with an intense trauma that they never received treatment for. The unfortunate truth is that some hoarders who aren't receiving the proper care, might be heading towards a horrible death.

According to hoarding statistics, around 19 million Americans currently suffer from severe hoarding. And hoarding is linked to homelessness, house fires, and other mental disorders like OCD. Some receive treatment for hoarding addiction, but the majority of hoarders go undiagnosed and untreated, resulting in the horrific – and often long undiscovered – deaths of hoarders each year.