Social Question

cockswain's avatar

Could you be charged with a crime if you didn't assist someone who died from auto-erotic asphyxiation?

Asked by cockswain (15254points) April 25th, 2010

Apparently if one restricts one’s air supply while masturbating enhances the experience. People have unintentionally died because they passed out with a noose around their neck while pleasuring themselves, and possibly this is what killed David Carradine and Michael Hutchence.

Imagine if your friend asked you to assist him in an auto-erotic asphyxiation episode to serve as his safety person who would remove the noose from his neck should he completely pass out at some point. Let’s say you begrudgingly assisted this person in this way several times in the past, but you refuse this most recent request. The next day you learn your friend died during his solo carnal act.

My question is what are the legal ramifications of this situation? I’m guessing it is unprecedented. Were you legally obligated to notify the police of your former friend’s dangerous actions? Could you possibly be charged with involuntary manslaughter as you’d assisted in the past and knew he was putting himself at risk?

For the record, this is a purely hypothetical situation and not a real dilemma with which I’m currently faced.

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26 Answers

dpworkin's avatar

I would not accept legal advice from anyone but a criminal attorney admitted to the Bar in your state. I certainly would be wary of advice on legal matters from Fluther. There is an awful lot of misinformation on this site.

cockswain's avatar

I’m not looking for real legal advice since it isn’t a real situation. A bunch of us were drinking last night and had a great time laughing about how ridiculous that would be. But I wonder how a judge would handle such an unusual situation.

I would never seek legal advice on Fluther.

dpworkin's avatar

Ahh, well in that case, I would speculate that a conservative crusading local DA might very well try to prosecute to get himself some headlines, and most of your fellow citizens would be unsympathetic.

Draconess25's avatar

You could always say you didn’t know he was doing it.

bobbinhood's avatar

As long as he never told anyone that he expected you to watch him, you should be just fine.

cockswain's avatar

Assume for the sake of argument the police found your number in his cell phone roughly 15 min before the time of death and when they asked you you foolishly fessed up what has been happening and now this information is public knowledge and in the hands of a DA. In your opinion, did you have a moral or legal obligation to not ignore his phone call for your “help”?

Draconess25's avatar

A moral obligation would be enough for me.

You & your friends have some weird converstions, don’t you?

cockswain's avatar

@Draconess25 yes, but frequently that’s my fault

bobbinhood's avatar

Legally, I don’t see how this would be considered any different from swimming without a lifeguard. Both are inherently dangerous activities that are normally done under supervision to increase the likelihood of survival. However, I don’t think you would be held responsible for your friend’s death if you were a lifeguard and said that you wouldn’t watch him swim in his backyard that night. Note, this is just my thinking on the matter and has no basis in research.

Morally is a bit more ambiguous for me. If this were my partner, I would definitely feel morally obligated to be there for him. However, I don’t think that I have a moral obligation to have anything to do with the sexual activities of someone with whom I am not sexually involved. Yet, while I don’t hold any moral obligation in the second case, I would still be haunted by guilt long after his death. It would be very difficult for me to live with the knowledge that if I had been there, he would still be alive.

Cruiser's avatar

Just make sure you have a good alibi on your whereabouts and no worries!

cfrydj's avatar

@dpworkin Jeez, that’s why we don’t have elected prosecutors in Canada. No, there are no Good Samaritan laws. Unless you owe that person some sort of legal duty to protect them (i.e. you are a spouse, parent, teacher, etc.) you are not obligated to step in. It is not a criminal offence to let them kill themselves, even if you know what’s going to happen.

cockswain's avatar

@Cruiser Assume you have a solid alibi. Do you think that because you had chosen to “assist” in the past, you knew this person had the intention to accidentally kill himself, so therefore you could get in trouble for not reporting it?

@cfrydj I like your answer, and I agree with your logic as well as that of @bobbinhood in that you aren’t necessarily morally obligated to stop someone from potentially harming himself. However, I also think @dpworkin has a point when he says a conservative DA could decide to charge you with a crime. Maybe a jury wouldn’t find you guilty, but do you think you could get charged? to clarify, I don’t personally think someone should be charged in this situation, and if they were they could argue they were being violated by being asked to participate

Arisztid's avatar

Excuse me but… Aaaaaaaaaiiiiiiiiieieieieieieieieeeeeeeeee! I am phobic of asphyxiation.

Ok, now that I am done hyperventilating:

I would think that it would be a criminal offense to not help. I know someone who did not call 911 when she knew someone was attempting suicide (it was prearranged). The person survived so legal proceedings did not occur.

HungryGuy's avatar

While only a lawyer can answer this question properly (and I’m NOT a lawyer). My hunch, based on your question, if you’re not even present, you’re not guilty of anything. But a lot depends on what country you’re in, etc. People in the BDSM scene do this sort of stuff all the time (either alone, or in the presence of a “play partner”), so it’s not so unusual. Though if the media finds out you knew about it, you’ll be embroiled in the scandal ju juoir for a while.

seekingwolf's avatar

Eh, I doubt you could get charged with anything.

It’s not your responsibility to make sure he doesn’t kill himself, even if you have helped him in the past. By participating in it by himself, he’s accepting inherent risk. You can’t be charged with anything if you weren’t there when it happened.

HungryGuy's avatar

@seekingwolf – Believe it or not, there ARE some countries in the world (typically Muslim countries, and socialist dictatorships, and such where the government likes to keep a tight control on the activities of the people), where you CAN be charged with a crime just for knowing about it but not reporting it to the police. But I don’t believe this is the case in any country in western Europe, or anywhere else the western world for that matter.

seekingwolf's avatar

Thank goodness I have no interest in going to those places!

MorenoMelissa1's avatar

Yes you can actually. Cause it’s considered murder even if it is consent

cockswain's avatar

@MorenoMelissa1 Do you know this for sure? I was guessing this hypothetical case was unprecedented. If you’re aware of something similar to this happening anywhere, I appreciate if you sent me the info.

escapedone7's avatar

I would think you’d be in a lot more trouble if you were there to assist and something went wrong. You’d have a dead guy, and your fingerprints and dna everywhere, and have to explain why you were there and how the little sex game went wrong. In fact I would refuse to participate for exactly that reason.

Cruiser's avatar

@cockswain In your example the only person you are accountable if and when your friend takes it too far is your own conscious. You are not responsible for what others do to harm themselves other than minors in your care.

seekingwolf's avatar


Yes this is correct.
The only way you could be charged in this situation is if you were IN the room and did not seek medical attention for him when the accident occurred.
If you’re at home and he’s at his home doing it and dies, you’re not at fault because it’s none of your business.

True example: I had an 18 year old male friend who was going out with the SOLE purpose of getting plastered. I said it was a stupid idea and he shouldn’t do it. He asked me to go along to get drunk too and I said no, I don’t drink. He ended up blacking out and getting raped that night while I was inside my dorm, watching TV and sleeping.

Was it my fault? No.
Do I have a guilty conscience? No.

People do stupid shit. It’s sad but true. But in the end, it’s not your fault as long as you weren’t involved and didn’t encourage it.

bobbinhood's avatar

@Arisztid I get what you’re saying, but this case isn’t exactly suicide. When someone commits suicide, their goal is to die. In this case, the person has no intention of dying, but is participating in an inherently risky activity and happens to die. Surely the two would not be treated the same?

Jeruba's avatar

I don’t see how anyone can be held responsible for failing to prevent someone else from making a mistake. In that case all parents would be in jail.

MissA's avatar


Thankfully, you’re always here to contribute a fresh, down-to-earth and ‘spot on’ comment…with humor and (darest I say it?) class.

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