In today’s exploration of totally random but interesting medical things you should know, we seek to answer whether it’s possible that you will die from hanging upside down. Scientists say the short answer is yes, although, the occurrence is rare. Officially known as reverse or inverse suspension, as SciShow reports, the official cause of death is usually asphyxiation. However, as a paper in The Forensic Examiner notes, the mechanism of death is complicated as other factors like intoxication and hypothermia can be present.
As SciShow explains, most cases of hanging-upside-down death involve people getting trapped, as in the case of a man who got stuck rappelling in Utah’s Zion National Park. His partner was unable to free the man, who was stuck hanging overnight and found dead by the time park rangers reached him the next day. In New Zealand, a teen boy hung upside down in a waterfall for more than three hours, coming down with hypothermia. Rescuers were able to free the young man, but he died overnight in a hospital, according to Sydney Morning Herald.
Magician David Blaine made headlines after attempting to hang upside down for 60 hours.
"I always liked that idea of being upside down," Blaine told Good Morning America, reports ABC News. "So I started experimenting on how long could somebody actually be put upside down. And there was no documentation of it. Nobody really had research on it. I invited doctors to kind of look and watch me as I was doing experiments. And although the dangers are high, I think there's a way to override that. "
However, the magician drew criticism for taking breaks every hour to drink and use the restroom. Though it was likely in the stunt artist’s best interest not to hang upside down for 60 hours straight. For more on the science about dying via hanging upside down, check out the video.