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


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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.

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.

Suffocate 1
Woman suffering respiration problems sitting on a couch in the living room at home

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.

inside water

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.

Last Updated : 23 February, 2024

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24 thoughts on “How Long Does it Take to Suffocate – (And Why)?”

  1. This whole article is truly eye-opening. The physiological effects detailed in it are almost haunting.

    1. Avatar of Baker Yvette
      Baker Yvette

      It’s unsettling to realize the fear and pain involved in something as simple as suffocation. This article really makes you think.

  2. This is quite chilling. To think that a process as simple as suffocation can be so drawn out. I’m left reeling after reading this.

    1. Avatar of Reynolds Scarlett
      Reynolds Scarlett

      It’s definitely a sobering reminder of the fragility of human life. The depths of human curiosity are truly fascinating.

  3. The information about the time it takes to suffocate is truly quite disturbing. I can’t help but wonder about the ethical implications of this information.

    1. This article certainly highlights the moral questions surrounding the study of human mortality and the human body’s response to trauma.

    2. It’s a challenging topic, isn’t it? The scientific knowledge behind suffocation certainly raises many ethical questions.

  4. The physiological responses to suffocation are quite alarming. This article has really opened my eyes to the intricacies of the human body’s reaction to trauma.

    1. Avatar of Parker Millie
      Parker Millie

      I agree, the scientific details in this article offer a unique perspective on the human body’s response to suffocation.

  5. Avatar of Wright Gordon
    Wright Gordon

    I never considered how suffocation could lead to hallucinations and euphoria. The human body’s response to such a traumatic event is truly intriguing.

    1. Avatar of Taylor Archie
      Taylor Archie

      It’s almost surreal to think about the human body experiencing such intense reactions in a life-threatening situation.

  6. I’m interested in learning more about the science behind suffocation. The explanation of why it takes so long to suffocate gave me a lot to think about.

    1. I’m with you on that. The scientific reasons behind suffocation are both fascinating and disturbing at the same time.

  7. Avatar of Reynolds Jayden
    Reynolds Jayden

    The explanation of why suffocation takes a long time is truly eye-opening. It’s a reminder of the resilience and fragility of the human body.

    1. It’s a startling reminder of the body’s vulnerabilities in the face of trauma. This article certainly drives that point home.

  8. The variability in suffocation times is quite intriguing. It highlights the complexity of human biology and the many factors at play in traumatic situations.

    1. Avatar of Bailey Sonia
      Bailey Sonia

      I hadn’t considered the many variables at play in something as seemingly straightforward as suffocation. This article has given me a lot to ponder.

  9. Thank you for this detailed information. It’s shocking to realize that suffocation can be so drawn out and painful. This article has certainly sparked my curiosity about human mortality.

    1. I had no idea it takes that long to suffocate. It’s truly astonishing to think about the process of dying in such detail.

  10. Avatar of Yasmine Holmes
    Yasmine Holmes

    The article’s detailed explanation of suffocation times is truly fascinating. It’s not often that we are confronted with the physiological details of such a traumatic event.

    1. Avatar of Taylor Justine
      Taylor Justine

      It’s a reminder of the complexity and resilience of the human body. The information in this article is truly thought-provoking.

    2. Avatar of Isabelle Wilson
      Isabelle Wilson

      Agreed, the scientific explanations certainly give one pause to reflect on the intricacies of the human body.

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