As everyone has now learned, the actor David Carradine did not lose his life by suicide, as early reports from Thailand, where he was working on a new film, seemed to suggest. No, it turned out that Carradine, 72 years old, was most likely engaged in an act of autoerotic asphyxiation at the time of his death, an activity that ought to be considered an unsafe sexual practice, according to The Stranger columnist Mistress Matisse, a professional dominatrix whose specialty is, of course, edgy sex play. In her latest column, aptly titled Control Tower, MM reminds us that "self-bondage can be risky in itself, but any time someone's oxygen is restricted, death becomes a possibility." She quotes Jay Wiseman, author of SM 101 and an authority on breath play, who clarifies the risk: "I know of no way whatsoever that suffocation or strangulation can be done that does not intrinsically put the recipient at risk of cardiac arrest."
So there you have it: death by cardiac arrest resulting from an elaborate masturbatory practice involving ropes, suspension, and cut-off breath. What a way to go.