Can you commit sucide by holding your breath?

The question is : Can you kill yourself by holding your breath? I don’t think it can be done though…if it ain’t possible, then why??

No, impossible. While there are better explanations than mine, a reasonable answer is that the primitive impulse to gasp for air is far too primary to anything that the forebrain can inhibit.


Even if you could hold your breath long enough to make yourself unconscious, once unconscious, you would resume breathing normally.

Sure you can, if your using a couple of Plastic bags tied around your head to help hold the breathe in :slight_smile:

Otherwise I agree with Needs


Needs2know has not chimed in. I’m the other one.


Your body comes fully equipped with something called an “autonomic nervous system”, which you cannot control.

It governs your heart, lungs, digestive tract, etc.

Your brain requires oxygenated blood to function. When your brain loses its supply of oxygenated blood, it shuts down. We call this “losing consciousness”. Oxygenated blood is supplied to your brain by your breathing process, in which your lungs oxygenate the blood and your heart pumps it to the brain. As soon as you hold your breath for so long that you stop your lungs from oxygenating more blood to provide to your brain, thus disrupting the flow of oxygenated blood to your brain and shutting it down, you lose consciousness–and your autonomic nervous system then kicks in, assumes that you of course couldn’t have intended to stop breathing, and very courteously resumes your breathing function for you.

The trigger that tells your ANS to kick in is the elevated levels of carbon dioxide in your blood, because of course the other side of the breathing process “coin” is that your lungs are also exhaling carbon dioxide, and if you’re not breathing in, then you’re not breathing out, either, and all that carbon dioxide is just staying in your bloodstream, not being exhaled.

So, what happens is, you recover consciousness after a minute, and find yourself lying on the floor with all your friends staring down at you. “Geez, whadja do?” And when you tell them, “I was trying to commit suicide by holding my breath,” they all laugh hysterically.

Since I can’t e-mail ya, DuckDuckGoose, I have to go public here and say what a total delight it is to once again see your name around the boards.

Oye gevalt :wally:, have you been missed. :slight_smile:

Welcome home.


<—laughing hysterically. Okay. So. It SHOULD have read,


First let me say I agree with what everybody said BUT let’s try to find a way to MAYBE see if this is possible.

How about if you were asthmatic. Could this trigger an attack?

What about if you were hyperventilating (Sp?)?

What if you had had a stroke? Could this bring another on? Say you pass out and have a stroke.

Again I agree in a perfectly normal healthy person this is not likely to ever happen.

In my experience, it’s difficult even to get to the point of passing out. Once my vision started blacking out I had to take a breath. Smothering oneself with a pillow also doesn’t work, at least not without additional rigging. (Hey, I was 14 and stupid. Whattya expect?)

IAN asthmatic, but my best friend is (and apparently suicidal, since she’s recently taken up smoking almost a pack a day despite having had her lungs collapse twice before she started doing things specifically to f*** them up, but that’s another story). Anyway she says that no, holding your breath wouldn’t trigger an attack.

Sheesh, I was only gone for a couple weeks. But thanx anyway.


And actually, I kinda liked the “Oy gevalt, putz”. It’s “me”.

You mean, could holding your breath trigger an asthma attack? No.

Could hyperventilating trigger an asthma attack? Yes.

Could a stroke trigger an asthma attack? Probably not, since a stroke doesn’t usually affect your breathing as such, just your blood circulation.

Are you trying to say, could you somehow trigger an asthma attack bad enough that you would stop breathing? Certainly, it happens, not all the time, but often enough to be distressing. The most frequent trigger, especially in children, is an allergen of some kind.