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Discussing: Suffocation vs. Strangulation

Suffocation vs. Strangulation

OK, you deadly trauma buffs, what would be the distinguishing marks of someone who has been suffocated vs. someone who had been strangled?

Hints on effective methods of either? No, no, I'm getting along just fine with the spouse and the in-laws - why do you ask?

Can you really suffocate someone with a pillow? I sleep face down on my pillow all the time and haven't woken up dead yet. Suggested pre-modern ways of doing this?

Strangulation - how much harder to achieve the desired end with hands as with a rope?

And, as a side discussion, drowning?

Just full of lovely thoughts tonight,




Re: Suffocation vs. Strangulation

[Dwim edges *away* from Ang all the way in Chicago]

Um... well, I don't know how helpful it is, but I've nearly strangled myself by having fallen asleep (don't ask how, I have no clue) with one of my own arms laid across my throat. I was face up and managed to wake up absolutely gasping.

I had an uncle fall down the stairs and break his neck--paraplegia ensued, but apparently he was in some danger of suffocating because of his own body weight and the way he was lying.

So it can't be that hard in terms of pressure required to suffocate/strangle a person, although perhaps using your hands would be tough because the person would be wriggling and you'd need to apply consistent pressure to achieve the desired effect.

Are you in a Gollum-y mood tonight, perhaps? Trying to figure out just how tough the little guy was to be able to take out an Orc with just his hands?



Re: Suffocation vs. Strangulation

Ang, I will be offline for most of tomorrow. Here is some information to start with. If you would like more, I will get you something detailed by tomorrow night.

"The homicidal variety is usually done either manually (brute force choking around neck) or by ligature (using a rope, wire, or garrote). All cases of strangulation are characterized by the following:
intensive heart congestion (enlarged heart; right side ventricle)
venous engorgement (enlarged veins above point of injury) =Purple face and neck above the venous obstruction (above the garotte or area where the victim was choked).
cyanosis (blue discoloration of lips and fingertips)
Presence of local injury, such as marks on the neck from the ligature (I would expect to see these in a ligature strangling) or bruising or abrasions (likewise from manual strangling.)

Obviously easier with a garrote rather than brute force. If the strangler is much stronger than the victim, it's not so much of a problem, but with an even match, the strangler is much safer using a garrote.

Smothering occurs when airways are closed by an obstructing object, such as a pillow or blanket. If a soft object has been used, the body will show no visible signs of trauma, but often there are small, discernible contusions or lacerations on the inner lips. Cyanosis may or may not be present, but there is usually what is called petechial hemorrhage -- small, pin-point blotches or dark red spots on the face, typically around the area of the eyes. BUT there may be no signs at all.

One may see abrasions of mouth and/or lips in a homicidal smothering if the victim could put up a struggle.

Can you really suffocate someone with a pillow? I sleep face down on my pillow all the time and haven't woken up dead yet. Suggested pre-modern ways of doing this?
A pillow can work. You don't wake up dead because if you are not getting enough air you will shift position, even while still asleep, so that you are. (Unless you have bad sleep apnea.) Also, the pillow is not put against your mouth and nose with enough force to completely occlude both. It would be hard for a healthy adult who is not intoxicated or drugged to accidentally smother just from sleeping on a pillow.

DDrowning results from the inhalation of water which causes choking which in turn causes the rapid formation of mucus in the throat and windpipe. The spread of this thick, foamy mucus is actually what ceases respiration, and victims will be identifiable by the presence of a "foam cone" covering the mouth and nostrils. In some cases, "dry drowning" occurs because shock causes enlargement of the larynx, and no fluids will be found in the lungs or stomach as is typical of your more common drowning where lots of liquid (as well as marine life) is often present. The classic drowning goes through five stages:

1. surprise (person is stunned and inhales water)
2. holding breath (person tries to hold breath while struggling)
3. pink foam (person inhales deeply & pink foam is expelled)
4. respiratory arrest (thoracic movement and pupils dilate)
5. final struggle (3-4 quick attempts to breath and find air)

On that cheerful note, goodnight for now.



Re: Suffocation vs. Strangulation

Strangulation - how much harder to achieve the desired end with hands as with a rope?

Here's something on amounts of force needed-

1) Airway obstruction requires 3.3 pounds of force
a) compression of trachea/larynx
b) elevates and pushes tongue back occluding laryngeal entrance
2) Obstruction of the neck veins requires 4.4 pounds of force.
a) produces back pressure - congestion of face - rupture of venules
3) Obstruction of carotid arteries requires 11 pounds of pressure
a) bilateral occlusion causes lethal cerebral ischaemia
b) ischaemia (insufficient blood flow, thus deprivation of oxygen and nutrients)
4) Carotid sinus stimulation any pressure on pressure receptor at carotid bifurcation
a) pressure carotid body- 10 th cranial nerve - brain - vagus nerve
slows/stops heart
5) Fracture of hyoid bone and thyroid cartilage
g) not vital structures, but marker of strangulation
6) Combination
a) may get venous and arterial obstruction and carotid stimulation
b) venous and arterial obstruction together - no congestion, few petechiae
c) pressure of hand or arm against the neck
d) venous + arterial obstruction, airway obstruction + carotid stimulation
e) Signs: - congestion and cyanosis of face - abrasions and bruising of neck - petechiae on conjunctiva, mouth and larynx - 70 - 90% fractures of hyoid bone or thyroid cartilage - increases with age of victim.




Re: Suffocation vs. Strangulation

Ooh, all of this is ever so fascinating! Yes, this is enough to get me started.

It is amazing how strong that scrawny little fellow is, isn't it? ;-)

Be afraid, Dwim, be very afraid.




Re: Suffocation vs. Strangulation

It sounds like things are getting out of hand in Hobbitton.



Re: Suffocation vs. Strangulation

Ooh, all of this is ever so fascinating! Yes, this is enough to get me started.

Do you need more information?

Lyllyn, who was not worried until Ang found it so fascinating.



Re: Suffocation vs. Strangulation

No, no, this is more than enough to confirm that my basic scenario will work. This will help me get the, ahem, job done with just the right panache. Though drowning is definitely out.

Things are not getting out of hand in Hobbiton, Mike. The Great Smials, yes, but not Hobbiton.

Toodles - Ang,
Who thinks the way Gollum brains the fish in the movie is so *cute*!



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