13 Unusual Ways to Die

Posted on March 21, 2014 and updated April 1, 2014 in Humour, Life Insurance Canada News 6 min read

Insurance is all about preparing for the unexpected. We all expect to die someday, and when it happens, life insurance helps our loved ones financially. Burial costs, income replacement, and more are not a worry with the right insurance coverage in place. But even for those that expect death, nobody could have predicted how these unlucky souls would go!

skull crossbones

1. Draco: Draco, Athens’ first legislator, created a written code of law that could be enforced in court. The term “draconian” is attributed to this man because of the harshness of his laws and punishments. Some people must have thought he wasn’t so bad, however, because he was showered with gifts from grateful citizens while in a theatre in Aegina. Unfortunately, this outpouring of appreciation was so much that Draco smothered to death under the gifts of cloaks and hats.

2. Arrhichion: The Olympics in Sochi have come and gone, but for the athletes, fame and glory carries on. Not so for Arrhichion of Phigalia. So great was his Olympic spirit that he fought to the death. During a match of pankration (a mix of boxing and wrestling), Arrhichion could not break his opponent’s stranglehold. Arrhichion kicked his opponent while attempting to twist out of the hold. The opponent didn’t release him but signaled his defeat to the umpires. Arrichion was declared the winner — posthumously, since the twist broke his neck.

3. Qin Shi Huang: China’s first Emperor was obsessed with eternal life. You may recognize his name in connection with the astounding Terracotta Army entombed in his grave. But did you know he died after ingesting mercury pills that he believed would grant him immortality? Oops.

4. Hans Steininger: This Austrian gentleman sported a glorious beard. He usually kept it rolled up in a leather pouch, but unfurled, it was an impressive 4.5 feet (1.4 metres) long. Perhaps he was showing it off when he tripped over it, broke his neck, and died.

5. Thomas Urquhart: How many times have you sent a text in response to your friend’s crazy autocorrect and said, “I just died laughing!” Mirthful Thomas Urquhart took that phrase a little too literally when he laughed himself to death upon learning Charles II had taken the throne. Don’t laugh! This unusual way to die is more common than you think!

6. James Betts: We all bring home friends our parents don’t approve of from time to time, but Elizabeth Spencer was not about to get caught. In 1667, this plucky lass stashed her friend, James Betts, in a cupboard to conceal him from her father. Betts died from asphyxiation before he could be released.

7. Clement Vallandigham: This showy lawyer decided to prove the innocence of his client by demonstrating how the victim may have shot him himself while drawing a weapon. The demonstration was a little too effective. Vallandigham accidentally shot himself, proving the innocence of his client while causing his own unlikely demise.

8. Harry Houdini: Famous for his daring escapes and illusions, entertainer Harry Houdini allowed an amateur boxer to punch him in the stomach. He died a few days later. The official cause of death was a ruptured appendix, and while the jury is still out on whether it was the punch that caused the rupture, nobody expected this daredevil to perish in any manner other than an escape gone wrong or good old-fashioned old age.

9. Basil Brown: Apparently you can have too much of a good thing, and Basil Brown learned this the hard way. A major health advocate, Brown consumed 10 gallons of carrot juice in 10 days. This caused an overdose of vitamin A and sever liver damage. What an unusual way to drink yourself to death.

10. Garry Hoy: To demonstrate that a pane of glass was unbreakable, Garry Hoy hurled himself against it. The glass was indeed unbreakable. It did not break, but it popped out of the window frame. Too bad the window was on the 24th floor of the Toronto-Dominion Centre. Poor Garry proved his point, but also plunged to his death.

11. Jennifer Strange: In 2007, Jennifer Strange died of water intoxication while trying to win a Nintendo Wii console. The contest, “Hold your Wee for a Wii,” was held by radio station KDND 107.9. After the fatal contest, Strange’s family sued for wrongful death. They were successful. Although the DJs involved are now working at different radio stations, they were apparently aware of the danger in holding the contest. KDND dismissed them after the incident. Not only is this an unusual way to die, but it is also a tragic one that could have been easily avoided.

12. Jose Luis Ochoa: Talk about angry birds! This bird was so angry it stabbed a man with a knife! Jose Luis Ochoa died after being stabbed in the leg at an illegal cockfight. The foul attacker had a knife attached to its limb. No word on if any egg-stealing pigs were involved in this angry bird’s revenge. 

angry birds not as much fun in real life

13. Edward Archbold: In 2012, Edward Archbold chomped down on some crunchy cuisine in order to win a cockroach eating contest. He died from chocking on the insect’s body parts.


We all know the grim reaper is coming for us some day, but for these unlucky 13, the reaper showed up in the most unexpected ways. Don’t get caught off guard. You simply don’t know what is going to happen tomorrow, the next day, or even a year from now. You won’t necessarily die of old age or disease. Your demise could be as unusual as it is unexpected. Protect yourself against the unknown with life insurance. You can’t count on tomorrow, but you can count on a good insurance policy — whatever tomorrow brings.

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