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Forensic Sci Int. 2003 Oct 14;137(1):41-4.

Accidental autoerotic deaths between 1978 and 1997. Institute of Legal Medicine, Medical School Hannover.

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Institute of Legal Medicine, Medical School Hannover, Carl-Neuberg-Street 1, D-30625 Hannover, Germany.


Between 1978 and 1997 the Institute of Legal Medicine of the Hannover Medical School examined 17 fatal autoerotic deaths. The incidence for the Hannover region was 0.49 cases per million inhabitants per year. The victims included 17 men with an average age of 36.8 years; a peak in the age distribution was seen between 20 and 29 years. Twelve of the men were found by friends or family in a domestic environment, while other situations in which the victims were found included the victim's own car, a hotel room, a canal embankment, a public parking lot as well as the holding cell of the youth detention center. The men were of varying socioeconomic status and held a number of different types of jobs or still attended school. Five of the men were found completely nude, while five were only undressed below the waist. Four men wore women's clothes and two were fully clothed with exposed genitals. Besides women's clothes, other objects found at the scene included various types of sexual aids, including ropes, chains, metal bars, locks, sex magazines, condoms, plastic bags, rubber items, etc. In four cases blood alcohol levels between 0.1 and 2.5 per thousand (urine alcohol levels between 0.2 and 2.5 per thousand ) were found. Toxicologic examination revealed chloroform, ketamine, a propane-butane gas mixture in one case each, and in two cases cocaine and morphine. Causes of death included central paralysis after strangulation (seven cases), asphyxiation (4), subarachnoid hemorrhage (2), intoxication (1), hypothermia (1), left heart failure (1), and drowning (1). The history, findings at scene, and autopsy findings and, in individual cases, other investigations are of utmost importance to accurately reconstruct a fatal autoerotic accident.

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