How Long Does it Take to Suffocate – (And Why)?

Exact Answer: About 15 minutes

There are many ways to die in the world. As living beings, we tend to be very resilient yet also very fragile as well. For those who have a sense of morbid curiosity, they may begin to wonder just how long it takes to die from a certain method. This is a natural human wonder, as we all struggle with morality and questions surrounding it.

Suffocation is not a quick method of death, as many would believe. Movies and TV shows have perpetuated the idea that suffocation leads to a quick, somewhat uneventful death. This isn’t so, as suffocation actually takes a bit longer than most would believe.

How Long Does It Take To Suffocate?

Contrary to popular belief, it actually takes someone much longer to die of suffocation than you would think. The speed of suffocation depends primarily on how one is suffocating, whether it be by gas or smoke inhalation or by force/strangulation. For instance, if one is suffocated by:

Gas/Smoke inhalation

When suffocating in this manner, one should lose consciousness after just a few short minutes, with hallucinations and even sometimes euphoria occurring after just three minutes. However, it should take a minimum of 5 to 7 minutes and even up to 15 minutes to die from suffocation by gas or smoke.


When suffocating in this manner, one may struggle and should lose consciousness after a minute or two. Death by strangulation should occur between 6 and 15 minutes, with an average being around 7 minutes. This may vary depending on the amount of force being used to suffocate.

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In summary:

Gas/SmokeBetween 5 to 15 minutes
Force/StrangulationBetween 6 and 15 minutes, with 7 as an average

It should be noted that suffocation is a long and painful way to die. Those who die by suffocation may experience hallucinations, pain, blood vessel rupture, loss of bowels and urine, convulsions, and much more. The time it takes to suffocate is lengthy, and dying from such matters is not an easy or calm death, but rather a very frightening and violent one.

Why Does It Take So Long To Suffocate?

Suffocation is a slower method of death and for good reason. Death by suffocation occurs when one’s supply of oxygen has been cut off for long enough. This will cause the organs and the brain to shut down, ultimately causing death.

Of course, suffocation times may vary depending on the method in which one is trying to suffocate. Suffocation by gas or smoke inhalation may cause secondary symptoms that may cause death sooner, such as rupture.

Suffocation by strangulation will always take minutes due to the cut off of oxygen. Unless one’s throat is crushed, or neck becomes broken during the process, in which death may occur sooner as a result.

No matter which manner that the suffocation is occurring, one can safely assume that suffocation will take at least five minutes to complete, with around seven minutes being an average amount of time for most. However, other factors can slow down or speed up the suffocation process.