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Suffocation occurs when a person cannot easily take a breath. Examples of suffocation include tying a rope around the neck, or pushing a pillow into one’s face. The act of mechanically blocking one’s breathing is terrifying, and people will struggle with the last of their strength to clear the obstruction.
When used properly, the plastic Exit Bag brings about a peaceful death; one that comes from (freely) breathing an atmosphere where there is no oxygen (hypoxia). With an Exit Bag, a person breathes easily and peacefully; the bag expands and contracts with each breath. The bag is not next to, or touching the face or mouth. This is in stark contrast to the terror of suffocation. This is why it is important not to confuse a peaceful hypoxic death that is possible when an Exit bag is used properly, with the grim death that results from an obstruction to the airways.
And this is why we should be wary of media reports that reinforce this confusion. For example, when referring in 2001 to the importation of Canadian Exit bags, the Murdoch press (The Australian newspaper) reported these bags as ‘reminiscent of the Khmer Rouge’s shopping bag executions in Cambodia’s killing fields’. Such reports show a total lack of understanding of the process and have damaged the image of the Exit Bag.
The Hypoxic Death
Hypoxia is a term meaning ‘low oxygen’. A death that results from inhaling insufficient oxygen is a hypoxic death. While there are several ways that this might occur, the common method used by those seeking a peaceful death is to suddenly immerse oneself in a non-oxygen environment.