Death is such a difficult and painful subject to talk about. Seeing a loved one die is a sight that no one wants to see. But would it help if you knew that someone died while laughing? Let us tell you about some effects that laughter has on us.
Laughter is the best medicine. It releases endorphins that promote a sense of well-being and have the capacity to relieve pain temporarily. Laughter also strengthens the immune system, boosts mood, and protects from the effects of stress. It can reduce the tension built up in our bodies and leave it relaxed for 45 minutes after. With an activity so natural and having so many health benefits, one would think it’s harmless. But, sorry to burst your bubble, guys, all that glitters isn’t always gold. It turns out, laughing too much at once can result in your death.
Don’t get too scared now. It happens very rarely, but it does happen. It’s just like taking any medication in proportion, gives you better health, and too much of it damages the body. When we are recommended a cough syrup, we are always advised to take it in proportion because too much of it could mess with our mind and leave us feeling drunk and disoriented. The same thing happens when we laugh excessively at one point.
Rare But Real
It is a rare form of death, but it can cause cardiac arrest, asphyxiation, or a loss of consciousness. As weird as it is, deaths due to laughter have been reported since ancient times. Call it ridiculous, but we have proof, and you might want to sit down as we list these incidents where people literally died of laughter.
1. The Greek Stoic philosopher, Chrysippus
Chrysippus was a stoic philosopher born in 279 BC in Soli, which is a city near Mersin, Turkey. He came to Athens to become a student of Cleanthes, the head of the Stoic School. He was very well known for his intellect and love for learning, especially in ethics and logic. After the death of Cleanthes, Chrysippus became the head of the Stoic school in 230 BC.
When it comes to how this philosopher passed away, two theories are recorded by Diogenes Laertius. According to the first theory, Chrysippus died because he drank undiluted wine at a feast, and that was the cause of death. The second theory, however, is the weird one. According to this theory, Laertius recalls the 143rd Olympiad from 208 to 204 BC. At this Olympiad, Chrysippus saw a donkey eating some figs and seeing that Chrysippus made a joke, “Now give the donkey a pure wine to wash down the figs!”. The joke was so funny that he started laughing uncontrollably and fell on the ground. Soon, foam started coming out of his mouth, and he died.
2. King Martin of Aragon
Now, Chrysippus wasn’t the only one who died due to an animal fig situation. King Martin was the King of Aragon, Valencia, Sardinia and Corsica and was the Count of Barcelona. One day, while he was in Barcelona, in 1410, he arranged for a feast. He would usually consume an entire goose by himself and the same happened at the feast. However, having a whole goose can’t be healthy even for a king, and his body agreed. After having a whole goose for dinner, King Arthur retired back to his chambers due to indigestion.
The King called for his Jester, who went by the name Borra to come and cheer him up. Borra must have taken some time to reach the chambers of the King because the King got annoyed and asked him where he had been. To this, Borra replied, “In the next vineyard, where I saw a young deer hanging by his tail from a tree as if someone had so punished him for stealing figs.” The King found it so funny that for the next three hours, yes three hours, he kept laughing. He laughed so hard that he fell out of bed, and when he hit the floor, he was dead. Yikes.
3. Ole Bentzen
Now, this is the story where the movie caused Dr Ole Bentzen, a 56- year-old audiologist, to laugh himself to death. The movie was a classic 1988 comedy named, A Fish Called Wanda. The movie revolved around a gang of diamond thieves who double-cross one another.
A scene from the movie where actor Michael Palin gets French fried stuck up his nose caused Ole Bentzen to laugh so sidesplittingly funny that his heart beats rose from its normal 60-100 beats per minute to 250-500 beats per minute. This led to a heart attack as he laughed uncontrollably.
4. Arthur Cobcroft
There’s a lot of things in the world that will make one chuckle at times. One such thing led to the death of an Australian named Arthur Cobcroft. Arthur was reading an old newspaper which had a list of commodities and their prices in the year 1915. He compared the price of the same commodities in the current year, which was 1920. The difference in the prices was so ironic that it caused the man to have a hearty laugh. He even called his wife to take a look at it and see how funny it was. But by the time Mrs Cobcroft arrived, the man had fallen onto the floor and died. According to doctors, death was caused by heart failure due to excessive laughter. If only he lived to see the prices of commodities now, he would surely have died of a heart attack caused by shock.
5. Thomas Urquhart
Sir Thomas Urquhart was a Scottish aristocrat, writer as well as translator, best known for translating the works of French Renaissance writer Francois Rabelais to English. He also supported the restoration of Charles II and marched with Charles in the Battle of Worcester.
Unfortunately, Charles II was defeated, and Urquhart was taken as a prisoner. He had to forfeit his property, but he was given some freedom by the captors and allowed him to roam around in the Tower of London. Meanwhile, Charles II was in the works of restoring his throne and soon succeeded. When Charles II’s news of being restored to power came to Thomas’s knowledge, he couldn’t believe it and ended up laughing nonstop. This nonstop laughter caused Thomas to ultimately die.
As much as we love a good laugh, can you imagine dying of laughter? It seems ridiculous, but as you can see, it is quite possible. We don’t say that you shouldn’t laugh. Laughter is a great stress buster, and with all the negativity and loneliness due to people being locked in the house because of COVID-19, we do think all of us should watch some light-hearted movies and series. Do be careful, though!