This paper seeks to empirically identify what factors make it more or less likely for people to survive in a life-threatening situation. Three factors relate to individual attributes of the persons onboard: physical strength, economic resources, and nationality. Two relate to social aspects: social support and social norms. The Titanic disaster is a life-or-death situation. Otherwise-disregarded aspects of human nature become apparent in such a dangerous situation. The empirical analysis supports the notion that social norms are a key determinant in extreme situations of life or death.