People that have Died from Laughing

Dying from a good joke, is it possible?

You have heard the phrase "I about died laughing," or some such similar phrase. Did you know that some people have literally died from what seems to be just simple laughter of a joke or show? This was a crazy idea when I first heard it, but it is true! People have died from laughing, or complications that arose from laughing.

Whether heart failure, seizures, or some other pathological condition, death has followed a good laugh and there are stories to back this up. Usually, laughter is just a feeling of joy that turns into a physical reaction from jokes, tickling or other stimuli. It can make us start to tear up, or even have some minor muscle pain. I know that my cheeks have started to hurt from too much smiling and laughing before, and I have definitely shed some happy tears from laughing so hard that I could hardly breathe. Usually my laugh just goes silent at that point, and all is well as I calm down. Laughter is great medicine for us all, generally speaking. So don't let these stories spook you or anything like that. It is super rare that a person will die from laughing.

Some examples of people laughing to death, literally.

There is an incident on record of a man laughing while sleeping. His name was Damnoen Saen-um. It was only just 2003 when this happened, and he was only 52 years old. His wife heard him laughing in his sleep, and couldn't wake him up to make him stop. He then stopped breathing, after just two minutes of laughing. The doctors think it was heart failure, or perhaps asphyxiation.

Sometimes a funny show or movie can cause a person to laugh to death! For instance, who ever thought that a Fish called Wanda would cause a Danish audiologist to laugh to death? His name was Ole Bentzen. In this case, his heart rate went up to 250 to 500 beats per minute. His death was from cardiac arrest, but what was he doing when his heart stopped? He was laughing! I just can't hardly believe these stories.

Another man, Alex Mitchel died while watching a funny show called "The Goodies." It was a particular episode called Kung Foo Capers. Who of us hasn't laughed very hard at some episode of one of our favorite shows? At any rate this episode was about a Scottsman, wearing a kilt, that was battling a scary black pudding. He laughed for 25 minutes straight, then collapsed. He was on the sofa when he died from heart failure. It was said that Alex Mitchel's widow eventually sent a letter to the Goodies, to thank them for making the last minutes of her husbands life so pleasant. Alex died in 1975.

Could Paroxysm explain it? I am not too familiar with this term before now, but here are a couple of definitions of it.

Paroxysm: "A sudden outburst of emotion. Or, a sudden and uncontrollable expressing of emotion. It seems to be an outburst of symptom, like a sudden onset or intensifying of a previous pathological symptom. It is like a sudden attack, or recurrence of a disease. It is just greatly intensified by the laughter and emotion. Some call it a sudden fit, or outburst, which makes sense of what we see often when people begin to laugh, especially laugh very hard all of a sudden. Convulsion, or coughing or a fit, are parts of yet other definitions of paroxysm. One said a violent sudden emotion, but in this case it would be very positive emotion. (There are also paroxysms of rage, but that almost makes more sense though still awful to cause death.)   I just find all of this so very odd.  I had no idea whatsoever, and I love to laugh and watch hilarious shows and movies, and I think many of us do!

Laughter is still among the best medicinces

Certainly, don't stop laughing the benefits of a good hearty laugh very much outweigh the risks.  It just makes us feel good, relieves stress, and calms us down and mellows things out in a rather serious world sometimes.  Some have said that it can be a natural painkiller, or at least cause people to forget other pains like arthritis, muscle pains, and even "pain of a heart that has been broken"

More studies need to be done, but there is some research that suggests that laughing helps to lower a stress hormone in our bodies, which would be a good thing.  Stress puts a lot of wear and tear on our lives.   Laughter can benefit our blood, and help to fight some bacterial and viral problems in our upper respiratory and gastrointestinal tracts.  Not all research fully agrees on this however, and more studies need to be done. It makes sense to me, that laughter is great medicine though.  It just makes you feel good.  We all ought to laugh a lot more.  

Watching laughing videos on Youtube

I don't want to post any here in this hub, but if you look up laughing videos just on youtube, you will be amazed at what you see!  There are many hilarious videos of people just laughing, but you can see in many of them, how the people start to cough, cry, stop breathing and turn all kinds of colors when they are truly laughing hard.  Some can't speak, and cease to make sounds (like myself) when I am laughing my very hardest.  You can see how it really affects our bodies and whole system when we laugh very hard.  My guess though, is that good feeling that follows is a healthy indicator that it is a good thing, and obviously most of us don't have underlying pathological problems where it will ever be an issue for us. 

So keep on laughing and just enjoy life and the company of friends and loved ones.  For that matter, enjoy laughing with just anyone around you.  I don't think that is something any of us will ever regret doing. 

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Comments 24 comments

Kdban101 profile image

Kdban101 5 years ago

very good hub.


oceansnsunsets profile image

oceansnsunsets 5 years ago from The Midwest, USA Author

Thank you Kdban!


Austinstar profile image

Austinstar 5 years ago from Somewhere in the universe

Good research on this subject. I loved it.


timonweller profile image

timonweller 5 years ago

Wow, I would have never thought laughter could be deadly.


daydreamer13 profile image

daydreamer13 5 years ago

Very cool hub! Something new! Voted up!


oceansnsunsets profile image

oceansnsunsets 5 years ago from The Midwest, USA Author

Thank you Austin Star, it was new news to me before I did this.


oceansnsunsets profile image

oceansnsunsets 5 years ago from The Midwest, USA Author

Timonweller, thank you, and I hear you. I had no idea that laughing could result in some people dying. There are many more than I shared here as well. Its really a sad story, but luckily it is super rare.


oceansnsunsets profile image

oceansnsunsets 5 years ago from The Midwest, USA Author

Daydreamer13, thank you!


Woody Marx profile image

Woody Marx 5 years ago from Ontario, Canada

Ocean: I must admit I was afraid to read this at first, thinking I might become a victim of the laughing bug, but I braved it out and it turned out to be worth it! Original idea.


oceansnsunsets profile image

oceansnsunsets 5 years ago from The Midwest, USA Author

Woody, I hear you, and its really an alarming thing. So glad you did read it, and thank you!


MPG Narratives profile image

MPG Narratives 5 years ago from Sydney, Australia

Wow, I must remember this hub when I have my next laughing fit. So glad it's rare.


oceansnsunsets profile image

oceansnsunsets 5 years ago from The Midwest, USA Author

MPG, thanks for the comment, and don't worry about laughing too much or hard, its actually still very good for you overall and I am glad too that it is so rare.


Sally's Trove profile image

Sally's Trove 5 years ago from Southeastern Pennsylvania

Amazing! Having had a couple of uncontrollable laughing fits in my life, the kind of fit where you just can't stop and can't even consciously form in your mind what set you off to begin with, I remember the physical effects clearly. I remember at the end, when the laughing finally quieted itself, feeling weak, depleted, but also totally relaxed. Who'd ever thing that kind of wonderful feeling could kill you? Hats off to Mrs. Mitchel for her letter to The Goodies...since we all have to go some day, what a great way to do it. What an enlightening Hub!


oceansnsunsets profile image

oceansnsunsets 5 years ago from The Midwest, USA Author

Sally's Trove, thank you! I can laugh pretty hard myself, and its good we pay attention to how we respond physically. That you feel totally relaxed after your laughing I think is a good thing. I agree, great way to go since we all have to anyway!


Glemoh101 profile image

Glemoh101 5 years ago

Thanks for your great hub , may i need to stop laughing from now hahah!!


oceansnsunsets profile image

oceansnsunsets 5 years ago from The Midwest, USA Author

Thank you Glemoh, and I would say that laughing is still very healthy for people. I know that I could never say that I won't laugh again, that would be too sad. I think these are super rare extreme cases, and just so odd. Thank you for your comment!


nicomp profile image

nicomp 5 years ago from Ohio, USA

No one will ever die from laughing at my hubs. I never thought of that as a good thing, until now.


oceansnsunsets profile image

oceansnsunsets 5 years ago from The Midwest, USA Author

Hello Nicomp, glad you stopped by and thank you for your comment.


fastfreta profile image

fastfreta 5 years ago from Southern California

Almost unbelievable! Very good research.


oceansnsunsets profile image

oceansnsunsets 4 years ago from The Midwest, USA Author

Thank you Fastfreta! I thought it was nearly unbelievable too. Glad for your visit. :)


Attention Getter profile image

Attention Getter 4 years ago

Well, I'll be thinking about this hub every time I laugh now. I tell you though, my friends dad is majorly overweight and unhealthy, and he laughs like there is no tomorrow - if he hasn't dropped dead from laughing then I'm not to worried!


oceansnsunsets profile image

oceansnsunsets 4 years ago from The Midwest, USA Author

Attention Getter, I hear you, he is probably just fine and maybe doing so great because he DOES laugh so much! I think its good for people to laugh and laugh hard even. These other stories were more like strange occurrences, very out of the ordinary. Still, I thought it strange enough to write about. Thanks so much for stopping by and leaving a comment, and definitely don't worry about laughing hard (not that you would). Its part of the joys of life I think. :)


Taylor 3 years ago

Might be a little late to mention it but i heard once a rich man died laughing watching an episode of the Three Stooges.

Just throwing that out there.


oceansnsunsets profile image

oceansnsunsets 2 years ago from The Midwest, USA Author

Hi Taylor, its not too late to mention, and I used to laugh very hard watching the Three Stooges. However, some of the humor is over the top or whatever, but I always loved it still. I miss the old shows like that, and hope no one really died laughing at that. Some others would say that if it was their time to go, that laughing would be the way to do it. Thanks for your comment.

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