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Unusual causes of Death

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When it comes down to it, there is only really one cause of death - the heart stops beating, you stop breathing, you die. Other things may contribute to it, and it's possible for the heart to be kept beating by a machine - in order to harvest healthy organs for transplants, for instance. However, some deaths are so unusual as to be worthy of notice. Here are just a few of them.

Death from the sky

In 485BC, the Greek playwright Aeschylus was minding his own business when a live tortoise landed on his head and killed him. An eagle had apparently mistaken Aeschylus' bald head for a stone, and dropped the tortoise on it to kill his prey. It's supposed to be lucky if a bird drops his 'message' on you from the sky, but this wasn't very lucky for Aeschylus.

Laugh - I could have died!

Chrysippus, a Greek Stoic philosopher, allegedly died laughing after watching his drunken donkey trying to eat figs. How the donkey managed to get into such an inebriated state is not clear, and we don't know whether the figs were still on the tree. Presumably, the donkey was so drunk he suffered from double vision, saw two figs and went for the wrong one every time. Otherwise, it just wouldn't have been that funny. Then again, the Greek Stoics didn't get out a lot.

More recently, in 1975, Norfolk bricklayer Alex Mitchell died laughing after watching an episode of 'The Goodies' on television. He laughed non-stop for the whole episode, then collapsed on the sofa and died from heart failure. Now that I can identify with - 'The Goodies' was hilarious.

I'm for the chop(per)

You'd think death by decapitation from a helicopter's rotor blades was something that could only happen in the movies, but it's happened twice in real life - each time on a movie set, would you believe? In 1981, director Boris Sagal walked into the tail rotor of a helicopter on the set of 'World War III.' The following year, actor Vic Morrow and a child actor were decapitated during the filming of 'Twilight Zone: The Movie.'

Books can be fatal

- Especially if you're only 5' 3" tall, and you fall behind a 6' bookcase. This happened to Mareisa Webber in 2006. Her family believed she'd been kidnapped, and didn't find her until 11 days later, by which time she'd suffocated.

The cost of not 'Spending a Penny'

In 1601, Tycho Brahe died from bladder strain because he wouldn't leave the banquet table to relieve himself. Other causes of death have since been proferred, but in 2007, Jennifer Strange died while trying to win a Wii console in a radio contest. Engagingly entitled 'Hold your wee for a Wii,' the contest involved drinking industrial quantities of water without passing any. It wasn't Jennifer's day, because not only did she die from water intoxication, she was runner up in the contest as well.

It's said that there are only two certainties in life - death and taxes. However, the manner of death can sometimes be surprising, and even comical - except for those nearest and dearest to the deceased of course.


More about this author: Sandra Piddock

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