Scuba diver has panic attack and rips off mask 50 feet down


A question from a non-diver: if the bends are a concern (it seems the consensus is they’re not in this case) can a diver ascend to the surface quickly to deal with an emergency, then descend back down to their previous depth and slowly rise as they usually would?

Is it worth it to try SNUBA on my next cruise? They always offer it and it sounds neat, but is it just a gimmick sold to dilettante tourists like me? I’ve always loved snorkeling.


You can. It might help. That is essentially what sticking you in a compression chamber does, tho more gently and safer.

The idea of “recreational” diving is that you aren’t supposed to descend to a depth and remain at it long enough, to owe a decompression penalty. Divers that do need to stage their decompression on the way up.

Every diver is recommended to do a 3-5 minute safety stop at 10’ at the end of their recreational dive, just cause it adds a level of safety.

Most “dive planning” that recreational divers are taught is to start at your deepest depth and work your way slowly up. This kinda of handles it for the most part anyways. Also the advent of dive computers has made it a lot easier to not get in trouble. Like the badges an X-Ray tech wears, the computer does a good job predicting when you have likely over saturated your tissues and need to be concerned. It warns you long in advance. As I was diving in the days when “Air integrated” computers were considered a risk, I still dive with two computers, in case I need a spare.

The bends are a thing but really not your number one risk when diving. Getting to the surface alive is your biggest concern. Compression chambers for a DCI are better than a funeral.


Ugh, I shouldn’t have watched that video, it kinda freaked me out. That woman was not in control of her brain at that moment - 80’ underwater. Not good, not good. I’m going to go watch the Bill Nye video to fresh my head.


That’s true, but it’s even more true of driving a car, where the equipment is much less reliable and your life is also dependent on everyone else’s equipment and on everyone else’s competence.

That is, I think this is more of a rationalization for “it’s scary” than a clear-headed policy.


Me too, index finger and thumb making a circle is ‘OK’. Thumb up is ‘Go up’.

(edit: sorry a bit late to the show).


That usually doesn’t work as a permanent solution, though it can relieve the symptoms while arrangements are made for treatment. It takes a very long, slow decompression to redissolve the nitrogen once it bubbles out. Usually hours in a hyperbaric chamber, sometimes with supplemental oxygen.


The main danger in surfacing quickly is that you are breathing compressed air. If you surface quickly and hold your breath, like most people will do when they panic, you are in danger of rupturing your lungs. Which is about as much fun as it sounds.

SNUBA is basically scuba but with the compressed air being pumped down to you from the surface. So you still have the same problem if you panic and hold your breath. Whether it’s worth it or not depends on the cost and where it is and how they are running it. Hard to say. Don’t look for the cheapest option.

For about $30 most dive shops will have a “discover scuba” program where you get to try out scuba gear in a pool with an instructor. Shops near an ocean or some cruise ships will usually offer a shallow dive or two, again with an instructor. I’d do some research before signing up. While most discover scuba programs are great and safe and fun, a few are none of the above.


I’ll sign up for SNUBA on my next cruise. If I’m not able to use the regulator without panicking the cruise ship always offers an option to back out and get a refund on the excursion. Thanks!

I would love to try SCUBA but I’m a hefty guy. I’m perfectly healthy though, but is there a general limit on weight for SCUBA?

Edit to remove my actual weight. What the hell was I thinking putting that on here!?


After trying out snorkeling, which is how humans actually should naturally be able to swim – we just need to evolve blowhole technology – I thought, gosh, scuba diving must be insanely 1000% more super awesome!

But this video is the stuff of nightmares. 50ft and it’s just a claustrophobic, eerie, green haze, no points of reference, just a harsh loud gurgling noise. The only communication with other humans is what… thumbs up? Thumbs down? Universal masturbation sign?

The woman then rips her mask off and that’s when the nightmare becomes terrifying. Yikes. Maybe I’ll stay on the beach and build sand castles.


There’s no weight limit per se but any reputable dive shop will make you sign a medical release before you take a class. If you’re relatively healthy then it’s no problem (otherwise half of the people scuba diving today would be disqualified). Although being overweight is a contributing factor to getting the bends (decompression sickness) you just learn to dive a bit more conservatively.
Have fun!


What was going on there? It looked like she was trying to swim upward but wasn’t making any progress, almost like was tied down.


Also the cert requires a doctors sign off as fit for the activity.

She is weighted down to counter balance the neoprene. Once the pressure of the water on top of her compresses the neoprene, she is negative.


Underwater visibility is highly dependent on all sorts of factors. Its not always a claustrophobic green haze with no points of reference.


At 60’ down, is nitrogen narcosis a possible explanation?


If Bill Nye melts all the ice, this poor woman will be 301’ under water. You’re not helping!


Drowning folks are described to look like they are “climbing a ladder underwater” and to have a “vacant expression” in their eyes.


In addition, she was doing the Big Freak Out, which does not help swimming in the least.


It is, however, my signature dancefloor style.


But people will counter that most of us have to drive, but we don’t need to SCUBA or skydive. I’ve done both many times.
I think skydiving is even more scary to people because, for most of a jump’s duration, if all systems fail you will die. Though most people don’t know the reserve is usually almost the same size as the main canopy and repacked regularly via a very rigorous process, AND most skydivers use an automatic activation device - if they are low enough and falling fast enough the reserve will pop out automatically. Also, most injuries and deaths happen while under canopy (colliding with another skydiver or stationary object (trees, buildings, power lines), not via the classic idea of a canopy failing to open properly.
For many SCUBA dives - especially if you’re not very deep (where most reef’s are, hence fish & critters) if all systems fail you can survive, and you should have a buddy who may help you out no matter the depth.
For both sports you should remain relaxed, breath deep, think through and practice emergency procedures, trust and verify the equipment and pay attention to gauges. They both offer experiences you’ll treasure and never have otherwise.


No, not generally until below 100’ or so.