What are the differences between strangulation, non-fatal and fatal strangulation and suffocation?

What is strangulation?
Strangulation can be defined as obstruction or compression of blood vessels and/or airways by external pressure to the neck impeding normal breathing or circulation of the blood.

What is non-fatal strangulation (NFS)?
Non- fatal strangulation is where such strangulation has not directly caused the death of the victims. Fatal strangulation is where death ensues.

What is suffocation?
Suffocation is different to strangulation. Suffocation is to deprive a person of air which affects their normal breathing. Suffocation is sometimes referred to as asphyxiation or smothering.

UK prevalence of strangulation and suffocation

1 in 4

women accessing community and refuge services reported having experienced strangulation or suffocation


In the decade to March 2020, strangulation or asphyxiation was consistently the second most frequent cause of homicide for women killed by men


estimated victims in the UK experience strangulation each year


of female homicide victims in England & Wales on average each year are killed by strangulation or suffocation.
(April 2010 - March 2021)


of femicides involved strangulation or asphyxiation (Femicide Census 2020)


of domestic homicides reviewed by the Domestic Homicide Review (DHR) process were caused by strangulation.
(October 2019- October 2020)

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