Sitting in the car on the drive back from IML is when I found out. Kink Engineering, a Toronto-based company that sells vac beds and other kinky wears, reports that one of their founders, designers, builders, and engineers has sadly lost his life due to playing alone. I didn't ever know Matt "Mad_Scientist", but I'd heard of him in various contexts and I had definitely browsed the website of Kink Engineering. I'm devastated. Again.
I only know what I've read about his death. Apparently, Matt had decided to get into and use a vac-bed while he was alone with no one else to keep an eye on him. He had set up several safeguards, but those he had set up depended on him being awake. The pressure on his neck caused by the vac-bed resulted in a carotid sinus reflex death. This is due mostly because the bed he was using had a neck-opening that was too small for his neck. The additional pressure on the carotid sinus triggered his heart rate to slow and eventually stop.
Here's the part that frustrates me most: if someone had been there to help him release the pressure on his neck, the neuronal reflex would have stopped, and his heart rate would have come back up, and he would have lived. But instead, he decided to do it alone. And now, at age 35, his life is over.
My heart goes out to Archean, Kink Engineering, and all of his family and friends.
I wish I could say this didn't happen routinely. In the previous couple of years, however, I feel like we've heard this story more and more frequently. It's unsettling. On a personal level, I know it's tough to wonder "what if". I lived for years in situations where there was no one anywhere near me to get kinky with. The lure of self-play is extremely difficult to ward off. I'm guilty of it myself, and given stories like this one, I consider myself lucky to be alive today.
But today is when we need to step up as kinksters and take responsibility. I cringe everytime I see videos on XTube or other sites of people engaging in risky play by themselves. Whenever I see a video of a guy doing breath play by himself, and pushing himself harder and harder to the edge, and there's no one around to rescue him, I die a little bit inside.
What kind of message are we sending to younger generations? Why are we trying to tell them that this kind of risk is acceptable?
That said, I'm a pragmatist. I know that there are guys out there who are going to be engaging in self-play come hell or high water, consequences be dammed. And when you're by yourself, you feel trapped, and like no one else in the world is going to understand you.....you just do it because you don't care anymore. Possibly because you saw videos of other guys doing it, and they were fine.
We shouldn't be throwing fuel on the fire, though. This has to end.
So here it is, my personal plea:
1) Please don't engage in risky self-play including breath control, vac bed use, etc. You never know what can or will go wrong. I'm sure Matt wasn't expecting things to go that way either.
2) STOP posting videos online of risky self-play. The message this sends is that it's safe, when it isn't. It's our responsibility to get this message out that it's not okay. If you already have videos posted of yourself doing risky self-play, please take them down.
3) Intervene with those who engage in risky self-play. Speak to them directly. Let them know how you feel about it, make sure they know their life is valuable, and volunteer your time (?) to monitor them so they're not playing alone.
Life is so valuable to every one of us. You can't ever get to those hot scenes you fantasize about if you're not alive to be a part of them. Let's work together to make sure we're all around to live out our kinks.