Can Intense Laughing Lead to Death? Yes

Yes is a brief answer on the question of: “Can laughing lead to death?” Fortunately for all comedy fans, it happens very rarely and is usually related to conditions such as highly developed asthma, chronic heart issues, etc…

When Did Laughter Murder Someone for the First Time?

The first documented cases of laughter taking human lives go deep in the past reaching ancient Greece. According to some sources it was during comedy performed on the town square of one of the greek polises when laugh became both the cause and the state of last moments in one of the spectator’s life. There is also a high probability that Mesopotamia had similar cases that were not recorded. However, when it comes to old Greece, there are exact records about the first victim.

Who was the First Victim?

The first victim of laughing was greek philosopher Chrysippus. He was born in Silica. As a young man, Chrysippus traveled to Athens where he became a stoic and eventually, for his work, earned the title of the second founder of stoicism. Like most of the philosophers, Chrysippus liked a good joke. In his case, being prone to comedy led him to death that ensued from strong laughter. For this tragedy to be even more bizarre, Chrysippus died laughing at his own joke.
What Was the Joke That Laugh Used for the First Kill?

It was during the Olympic games. After watching a wrestling match, Chrysippus went to a feast where he saw a donkey eating figs. He had cried out: “Now give the donkey a drink of pure wine to wash down the figs” and instantly became overflowed by a fit of laughter. When laughing stopped, Chrysippus was dead.

Donkey laughing

This donkey is laughing

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Why Do People Die From Laughing?

Although laughing is one of the best natural medicines capable of releasing human organism from tension and stress, it can also lead to overdose. Here is a list of things laughing can trigger:

  • Asthma attack
  • Gelastic Seizures
  • Asphyxiation
  • Syncope

Asthma Attack

Besides crying, stress, excitement laughter is one of the triggers for this kind of occurrence. Asthma attacks caused by laughing can be lethal if not treated immediately and with the right approach. Most of the time the symptoms are going to be mild. However, in rare cases, laughing may induce strong asthma attacks that can cause respiratory failure or cardiac arrest.

Gelastic Seizures

A gelastic seizure is a sudden burst of energy that manifests itself through uncontrolled high intensity laughing or crying for a short duration(up to a minute). The famous comic villain Joker suffers from the same condition. These energy bursts can even take place while a person is sleeping. Just like asthma, seizures can cause death.

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Hard laughing is capable of causing asphyxiation and suffocation. Creating discord in breathing or stoping appropriate oxygen flow can have a fatal outcome. This kind of death is called nitrous oxide overdose.


Syncope is a temporary loss of consciousness caused by insufficient blood flow to the brain. In normal circumstances, it is triggered by low blood pressure, exhaustion, a reduction in heart rate or dehydration. However, on rare occasions, strong coughing or laughing can be the reason for syncope that can even have fatal outcomes.
Laughing – Yes or No?

If you are now in a dilemma if you should laugh or not the answer is yes. By all means, unless you are eating, don’t even attempt to evade the opportunity to chuckle, titter or “lmo”. While mysteries regarding laughing that encompass its ability to kill are many, there is no way to deny it as one of the strongest natural medicines we are born with.

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