Kiss of Death

Walking around Penn State campus, you are sure to see something on both men and women, young and old. Race, size, and health do not prevent this common occurrence as it can be seen on anyone. What is this thing that many people on this campus have in common every Monday morning after a weekend of socializing? A Hickey.


The media has been reporting about a seventeen year old from Mexico named Julio Macias Gonzalez who recently passed away. What was the cause of death for this seemingly healthy young man? A hickey. Julio had received this “kiss of death” from his girlfriend. The suction created formed a blood cot in Julio and resulted in him breaking out into convulsions at his family dinner and dying from a stroke as the blood clot traveled to his brain.

In another case from 2010, a forty-four year old woman from New Zealand was admitted to the hospital after a sudden paralysis of her arm. This was also due to a stroke that at first seemed to have no causation until the doctors noticed a bruise on her neck. A hickey located on a major artery had traveled to her neck and caused a minor stroke. This woman survived.

Now as we have discussed in class, should these few and far between anecdotes mean you should never give or receive a hickey? The choice is up to you. Death by hickey is so uncommon it is unheard of. This calls into question whether the hickey is actually the cause or if there is an underlying health issue. According to USA Today, the suction of the hickey could serve as a catalyst for an underlying health issue such as an existing connective tissue disorder.

According to Dr. Robert Glatter an emergency room physician, a hickey would have to be given with enormous pressure and in just the right spot. He also cited a vigorous cough or aggressive movement of the neck as other ways for a stroke to occur.

The preceding information leads me to believe that reports of hickeys leading to strokes display hickeys having more of a correlation with strokes, but certainly not a causation. With so few reports and studies done, there is little evidence that a strong enough suck of the neck will lead to a blood clot.

That being said, should you ignore these cases and continue on as if these things are not dangerous? Well that’s up to you. As an individual, you must evaluate the risk along with your desire.




5 thoughts on “Kiss of Death

  1. Samuel Deluca

    This might be the most original post I have seen yet. You raising awareness about the hickey death rates will definitely incite some people to lay off from giving or receiving hickeys. It is a topic many students can relate to, but are probably not educated about it. I found it both relevant and interesting.

  2. Madison Taylor

    This post caught my attention right away, because I just read about the death of Julio Macias. When I first heard of the story, I was in complete shock. In my wildest dreams, I cannot imagine a hickey leading to the death of a person. The rarity of this type of death is reassuring, yet it still concerns me that it even exists. The idea that the hickey can lead to stroke which can lead to death does make more sense than just a hickey causing death. Here is a BuzzFeed article about other strange and rare death occurrences.

  3. Grace Ellen Leibow

    I never thought that something that seems so laughable, embarrassing, and yet a common, relatable occurrence could produce such devastating consequences if you are unlucky enough. I’ve definitely noticed my fair share of hickeys around campus, but now I’ll be sure to consider the dangers if I see a particularly gruesome one. If you’re interested in learning about what a hickey actually is, as well as how to get rid of them, this buzzfeed article does a good job at explaining and addressing both points. You can find it below, hopefully it is informative and helpful to anyone confused or in need of some tips.

  4. Abigail Louise Edwards

    Wow! This left me speechless, I had no idea that something like this ever happened. I read your post to my roommate and we both instantly said, “Nope, never giving or receiving a hickey again.” Although as I continued to read you made it very clear that the hickey wasn’t the cause, it only pointed to the real problem. This was a very good post, it is a great and interesting topic!

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