Not Medical Advice: Asphyxiation refers to blocking the airway so that the person cannot breathe and ultimately dies.
Lack of oxygen, either partial [hypoxia] or total [anoxia] causes death. Although hypoxic endurance varies, a person can lose consciousness in 40 seconds and die within a few minutes at ambient oxygen levels as low as 4-6%, according to Forensic Consultants Association.
Asphyxial deaths, whether accidental, suicidal or homicidal are often grouped by forensic scientists into three generalized categories: Suffocation, Strangulation and Chemical Asphyxia. Chemical asphyxia is characterized by an inhaled substance interfering with the body’s ability to use oxygen.
Legendary actor Robin Williams, according to Marin County Sheriff's preliminary investigation, died of asphyxia due to hanging. Williams was 63 and had suffered for years from periodic bouts of substance abuse and depression.
In the news, there is a move afoot to rename the Waldo Tunnel — the gateway into Marin on Highway 101 — after Robin Williams. The request is being made: "To remember and honor the very important citizen and world renowned entertainer, Robin Williams, for the joy he brought to the world and to bring awareness to the silent illness that eventually took his life." Read more at Marin Independent Journal.