A 33-year-old man is thought to have accidentally suffocated himself after a solo sex act involving a plastic bag and a gas mask went wrong.
The Japanese man, who has not been named, was found dead on the floor by his mother. He was fully clothed in his work overalls but he had his fly undone and was not wearing any underwear. He also had a gas mask over his nose and mouth and a plastic bag over his head which was loosely secured around his neck with a belt.
A report on the incident, published in medical journal Legal Magazine in May, explained the 33-year-old did not appear to have suffered other injuries or mental health issues, and as he had not left a note or will it was ruled there was no reason to suggest the man had killed himself on purpose.
Investigators believe the man had a bondage or masochism fetish, as suggested by pornographic videos, magazines and sex toys found in his wardrobe and images of people who had been bound or wearing rubber suits found on his computer.
It is thought the man suffered an autoerotic death, which is defined as ‘the accidental death of an individual while masturbating, caused by a device or material used to enhance the sexual response’. The cause of death was determined to be suffocation, assumed to have been the result of the plastic bag covering the gas mask’s ventilation.
In the report, Dr Hiroshi Ikegaya and his team explained:
Because of the circumstances at the time of discovery and the fact that it was a sudden death, we considered the cause of death to be suffocation.
The report makes clear the dangers of autoerotic asphyxiation, which involves cutting off the air supply for sexual pleasure. It can take less than one minute to for someone to pass out from lack of oxygen and just a few minutes more to suffocate.
Forensic Magazine explains how a lack of oxygen – known as anoxia – interrupts the brain’s blood supply and within one to two minutes irreversible damage to the brain can be caused. The heart muscle cannot function without oxygen; anoxia causes degeneration of the tissue and if the heart no longer has enough energy to move it will go into cardiac arrest, which can be fatal.
The electrical equipment shop worker, who was described as ‘healthy’, had been at work until 8pm on the day of the incident. He returned to the house he shared with his parents and grandmother and ate dinner before going to his room. His family did not see him again until his mum found him later that night.
Paramedics rushed him to hospital but doctors confirmed he was dead.
If you have experienced a bereavement and would like to speak with someone in confidence contact Cruse Bereavement Care via their national helpline on 0808 808 1677.
Emily Brown first began delivering important news stories aged just 13, when she launched her career with a paper round. She graduated with a BA Hons in English Language in the Media from Lancaster University, and went on to become a freelance writer and blogger. Emily contributed to The Sunday Times Travel Magazine and Student Problems before becoming a journalist at UNILAD, where she works on breaking news as well as longer form features.