If Your Partner Dies During Sex, Here's How You Should Handle It

Now add death to the list of sex worries.

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Accidental pregnancies and STDs are typically the main worries when it comes to having sex, so adding death onto this list seems a little extreme.

The headline of a recent Vice article, “What to do if Your Partner Dies During Sex,” seemed like a joke to me at first. But as I read on, I realized that this was actually an issue for people.

According to the article, there have been plenty of cases where people die during sex. And while the occurrences of this happening are quite low, officials seem to think that many of these deaths go unreported.


Can’t picture someone croaking just from getting frisky? There are plenty of examples.

Thirty-one-year-old William Martinez, died in 2009 from heart issues while having a threesome with a man and woman in a motel. Also in 2009, Sergey Tuganov, 28, died after taking too much Viagra and having sex for 12 hours. Doctor Suresh Nair gave sex workers so much cocaine that they died during the act in 2009 as well.

There’s also the more unusual case of a club manager in San Francisco who activated the lift of a piano he was having sex on and ended up being crushed to death between the piano and the ceiling back in 1983. Engaging in a BDSM romp, a British policeman was killed after his partner sat on his face, tightened a leash around his neck and essentially cut off his air supply at his request back in 2016.


While all of these stories are pretty terrifying, the implications go well beyond the person that died. While the deaths typically are accidents, they aren’t always judged like one by police.

During a BDSM session between a couple in Ohio, a man was choked to death but his partner wasn’t charged with murder. However, a Canadian woman was charged with manslaughter when her sex partner died during the act. And in 2014, two teens were charged with the strangulation of their partners during consensual rough sex.

In the Vice article, the journalist reaches out to Kristina Dolgin, the executive director of Red Light Legal, a company that offers legal assistance to sex workers, the people most likely to be charged with sex-related deaths. In the interview, Dolgin explains the situations in which people may be charged for the deaths and what steps you can take to handle the legal scrutiny if it happens to you.

When asked who is most likely to face legal problems after their partner dies during sex, Dolgin said, “People who are married, have a nuclear family thing going on, where there isn't any kind of suspicion of extramarital sexual activity, when it's not largely known that people are engaged in BDSM — I think those cases run the lowest risk of prosecution.”


In the end, she believes that it will come down to what the relationship looked like from the outside and what the actual arrangement was.

When asked which people she thought were most at risk legally, Dolgin responded with, “You stand the most risk if it's a paid transaction... and if it's obvious some kind of criminalized activity was taking place. If you are a part of a population that is very criminalized and demonized on a moral level, that battle to be vindicated of a harsh crime is just that much harder.”

When speaking about accidental overdose on both legal and non-legal drugs, she advised people to make their own choices. In places like California, where there is a Good Samaritan law that protects both the person overdosing and the person who calls for help, it would be beneficial to reach out to authorities. However, not all states have this protection and if you are involved in something illegal, whether it’s drugs or prostitution, you could be heavily charged.

If a partner dies during sex due to a BDSM activity, charges may apply because many of those acts are considered inherently dangerous.


Dolgin says, “There is this blanket precedent in California and in other states that this is inherently bad, that this is inherently dangerous, so it's really easy for courts and prosecutors to attribute cause to that particular activity.”

When asked how to avoid the risk of liability if someone dies during sex, Dolgin offers up some pretty obvious advice: “Make sure that you're in a situation where there isn't risk of death, if you can avoid it.”

Some additional ways to do this are:

  • Get trained in CPR.
  • Carry NARCAN in case there is an opiate overdose.
  • Ask your partner about their medical conditions before engaging in sex.
  • Consider less risky BDSM play.

In the event that someone you’re having sex with dies, Dolgin suggests that you leave all evidence the way that it is, hire a lawyer, keep quiet, and use all the resources available to you to fight the charges.

Now that you are probably scared about something you never even considered before, be careful out there!