# The Naked Scientists Forum

### Author Topic: How long does it take to suffocate someone?  (Read 54171 times)

#### DoctorBeaver

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##### How long does it take to suffocate someone?
« on: 28/07/2007 19:12:39 »
I'm obviously in a morbid mood as this is my third post about dying.

So, if I stick a pillow over someone's face, how long would I have to keep it there to be sure the person was dead? Does a person's fitness affect the time it would take?

(No, I'm not thinking of killing anyone)

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##### How long does it take to suffocate someone?
« Reply #1 on: 28/07/2007 20:00:01 »
To be on the safe side about 5 minutes.

I don't think fitness comes into it as its down to the lack of oxygen present.

#### another_someone

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##### How long does it take to suffocate someone?
« Reply #2 on: 28/07/2007 21:22:21 »
I suspect longer than 5 minutes - and I would think there is even a possibility that fitness may have a negative correlation (i.e. someone who is less efficient at using their available stocks of oxygen may be able to keep it lasting longer).

I used to be able to hold my breath (granted, after hyperventilating) for at least 4 minutes (when I was a teenager - this was underwater).  The main issue is, don't panic, since anything that raises your heart rate will increase your oxygen consumption - so you want to slow everything down as far as possible in order to conserve oxygen.  If the victim was suffering from hypothermia, I would imagine they could survive even longer while being asphyxiated.

I would think that it might well be possible (but not inevitable) to survive 7 minutes before becoming unconscious, and then some minutes more before brain death.

#### DoctorBeaver

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##### How long does it take to suffocate someone?
« Reply #3 on: 28/07/2007 22:07:30 »
George - that's roughly what I was thinking. I'd figured that the way you see it in films where the victim dies within a minute or so couldn't be right.

#### another_someone

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##### How long does it take to suffocate someone?
« Reply #4 on: 28/07/2007 23:05:28 »
George - that's roughly what I was thinking. I'd figured that the way you see it in films where the victim dies within a minute or so couldn't be right.

It would be a very uneventful film if you had to spend all of 7 minutes, or longer, just watching someone die (OK, if that was what the film was about - but usually it is just a plot device for whatever follows - so you want to just get it over with quickly, and then move on to what the rest of the plot is about).

#### DoctorBeaver

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##### How long does it take to suffocate someone?
« Reply #5 on: 28/07/2007 23:47:01 »
But if they want it over quickly, just have the victim shot instead. That'd be faster.

#### another_someone

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##### How long does it take to suffocate someone?
« Reply #6 on: 29/07/2007 00:10:08 »
But if they want it over quickly, just have the victim shot instead. That'd be faster.

It would be a little quicker - but even that takes a good couple of minutes to die (unless it's a head shot through the brain stem).  Again, some bullets can cause severe shock, and effectively incapacitate the victim fairly quickly (not necessarily kill) - that was the reason for the invention of the dum-dum bullet - because conventional bullets could take too long to kill, and would not stop a determined attacker from getting through before the finally collapse.

#### DoctorBeaver

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##### How long does it take to suffocate someone?
« Reply #7 on: 29/07/2007 00:17:55 »
Well shoot them with 1 of these!

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##### How long does it take to suffocate someone?
« Reply #7 on: 29/07/2007 00:17:55 »