Autoerotic deaths in the literature from 1954 to 2004: a review

J Forensic Sci. 2006 Jan;51(1):140-6. doi: 10.1111/j.1556-4029.2005.00032.x.


Autoerotic death by hanging or ligature is a method of autoeroticism well known by forensic pathologists. In order to analyze autoerotic deaths of nonclassic hanging or ligature type, this paper reviews all published cases of autoerotic deaths from 1954 to 2004, with the exclusion of homicide cases or cases in which the autoerotic activity was not solitary. These articles were obtained through a systematic Medline database search. A total of 408 cases of such deaths has been reported in 57 articles. For each case, the following characteristics are presented here: sex, age, race, method of autoerotic activity, cause of death, and location where the body was found. Autoerotic death practioners were predominantly Caucasian males. Victims were aged from 9 to 77 years and were mainly found in various indoor locations. Most cases were asphyxia by hanging, ligature, plastic bags, chemical substances, or a mixture of these. Still, atypical methods of autoerotic activity leading to death accounted for about 10.3% of cases in the literature and are classified here into five broad categories: electrocution (3.7%), overdressing/body wrapping (1.5%), foreign body insertion (1.2%), atypical asphyxia method (2.9%), and miscellaneous (1.0%). All these atypical methods are further discussed individually.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Age Distribution
  • Asphyxia / mortality
  • Cause of Death
  • Continental Population Groups
  • Electric Injuries / mortality
  • Foreign Bodies / mortality
  • Forensic Medicine
  • Humans
  • Paraphilic Disorders / mortality*
  • Sex Distribution