Clarissa Johal: Frightening Friday-Death by Laughter

Friday, November 7, 2014

Frightening Friday-Death by Laughter

Photo courtesy of weezerthewonderful via Flickr
Did you know you could literally die laughing?

…which is why I write paranormal and horror. Wouldn’t want to kill any of you people. 

Death by laughter usually results from cardiac arrest or asphyxiation. Instances of death by laughter have been recorded from Ancient Greece to the modern day. It's rare but it does happen.

In 1410, King Martin of Aragon died from a combination of indigestion and uncontrollable laughter. He was eating an entire goose when his favorite jester entered his bedroom. When King Martin asked where the jester had been, the jester replied with: "Out of 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."
I'm not sure why that was so funny...but perhaps it was lost in the translation.

In 1975, Alex Mitchell of King's Lynn, England, died laughing while watching an episode of The Goodies, which featured a kilt-clad Scotsman battling a master of the Lancastrian martial arts armed with a black pudding. After 25 minutes of laughter, Mitchell died on the sofa from heart failure. It was determined that the family carried Long QT syndrome, a genetic disease which results in heart rhythm abnormality. Mitchell's heart attack was caused by the excess of stimuli--in his case, laughter.

In 1989, Ole Bentzen, a Danish audiologist, died laughing while watching A Fish Called Wanda (one of my favorite movies). During the scene where Otto sticks a chip up Ken's nose, Ole died of cardiac arrest brought on by laughter. According to rumor (confirmed by his son) Ole apparently had a similar experience to Ken's. He put a piece of cauliflower up his and every family member's nose as a joke and made a bet as to who could eat their carrots without the cauliflower falling out. He sounds like someone who would make me laugh.

My heart goes out to these families. All I can say is that at least they died with a smile on their face.

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