Is It Possible to Strangle Yourself?

The American Journal of Forensic Medical Pathology reports that 80.2 percent of forensic medical experts believe that manual pressure to the neck can cause death due to cardiac arrest. However, a 2011 review in Forensic Science International concludes that traumatic pressure to the carotid sinus isn’t enough to cause death.

Manual self-strangulation cannot cause death due to hypoxia, or lack of oxygen, because the victim passes out and releases the pressure before hypoxic death occurs. However, according to a story aired by NPR in 2012, around 82 teenagers are known to have accidentally died from self-strangulation while playing the so-called “choking game” over a 12-year period. All of these deaths involved applying a ligature, such as a belt, scarf or rope, presumably didn’t release as intended after the victim became unconscious.