We’re nearly halfway through 2015 now and the first half of the year brought us a bizarre new trend among teens and adults alike: helium burping. Yep, it makes a funny noise. What isn’t funny about helium burping is that it is unbelievably dangerous and it can have fatal results.
Let us make this blatantly clear: HELIUM BURPING CAN KILL YOU.
The above video, uploaded to YouTube on December 28 by Pawel Kowalski, seemingly started the new helium burping trend after it was featured on the popular site, Gawker and then spread on social media. As of this writing, the original video has well over 613,000 views and has since inspired a countless number of copycats uploading their own helium burping films, like this radio personality who attempted the belch with his young daughter.
Unfortunately, what most of the outlets sharing the helium burping videos failed to report on are the potentially fatal effects of inhaling helium— a practice that most of us are raised to think is just a harmless gag thanks to that one uncle that we all have and countless skits in pop culture that opt for entertainment over education. Take Gina, the helium-huffing giraffe, for example, who encourages little kids to inhale helium and upload their own squeaky-voice videos.
You can even find evidence of our societal ignorance within the conversation that ensues in the comments section of the featured helium burping video, after commenter Jason P (Gravy) intelligently warns viewers, “Helium is a good way to kill yourself, don’t be an idiot and inhale it.” (Click here and see the top comment to expand the conversation.)
In fact, many people purposely choose helium inhalation as an easy method of committing suicide. In 2010, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) reported that there were more helium-inhalation deaths in the UK than marijuana, ecstasy, GHB, and mephedrone, combined.
In the U.S., although few states report statistics pertaining specifically to helium-related deaths, Florida documented nine helium inhalation fatalities in 2010, which represented 20% of all inhalation deaths in the state that year.
Many victims of helium inhalation are not intentionally trying to kill themselves however, and unfortunately a vast percentage of the accidental helium fatalities are young people looking for laughs.
Take 14-year-old Ashley Long from Oregon for example, who died after inhaling helium to make squeaky voices with her friends at a slumber party (The woman hosting the party was later sentenced to 28 months in prison)…
… or 13-year-old Jordan McDowell, who fatally inhaled a small amount from a birthday balloon…
… or 17-year-old Micah David in Riverside…
… or two 21-year-olds who died together in Tampa Bay…
… or a 12-year-old singer who went into a coma after inhaling helium on a live television show skit.
Get the point yet?
No one has officially died or been hospitalized specifically from helium burping yet, but listen- here’s the deal: Helium is a lighter-than-air inert gas. Inhaling it displaces the oxygen needed for respiration and can cause rapid suffocation. It can trigger embolisms, or even cause barotrauma in which the lungs literally explode.
We at Zephyr cannot stress this enough: STOP HELIUM BURPING. DO NOT INHALE HELIUM. EVER!
Parents, do your little ones a favor and set a proper example. Give up the funny voices and instead, educate your children about the danger of inhaling anything, including helium. And if you don’t think it’s that big of a deal, go ask the parents of the young people we’ve listed above what they think about the severity of helium inhalation.
We strongly encourage you to share this article. When it comes to inhaling helium and helium burping, it’s no laughing matter.