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Autoerotic Deaths: A 25-Year Retrospective Epidemiological Study

Sauvageau, Anny MD, MSc

The American Journal of Forensic Medicine and Pathology: June 2012 - Volume 33 - Issue 2 - p 143–146
doi: 10.1097/PAF.0b013e3182186a03
Original Articles
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It is written in almost all articles on autoerotic deaths that these fatalities account for about 500 to 1000 deaths per year in the United States and Canada. However, contrary to the general belief, this incidence rate was not obtained through a study, but it is an estimation based on 30-year unpublished data from Canada and England. In the present retrospective study from 1985 to 2009, 38 cases of autoerotic deaths were identified in the province of Alberta (Canada). This number corresponds to an incidence of 0.56 autoerotic deaths per million inhabitants per year. The vast majority of these deaths are related to typical, predominantly asphyxial methods, such as hanging. The bodies were most commonly found in basements, bedrooms, and bathrooms. There is no clear evidence of a preferential time of day for these deaths, but there appear to be slightly more autoerotic deaths during summer. The incidence of autoerotic deaths is higher in big cities compared with rural areas. The previously published estimate of 500 to 1000 `autoerotic deaths per year should not be used for Canada. An incidence of 0.2 to 0.5 cases per million inhabitants per year is a better estimate of the incidence of autoerotic deaths. The incidence in United States should be reassessed using epidemiological studies.

From the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.

Manuscript received April 9, 2010; accepted October 7, 2010.

The author reports no conflicts of interest.

Reprints: Anny Sauvageau, MD, MSc, Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, 7007 116 St, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada T6H 5R8. E-mail: anny.sauvageau@gmail.com.

© 2012 by Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.