Tragedy comes in many forms.

As parents, our worst nightmare is for tragedy to touch our children, our precious sons and daughters.

Distressingly, these past few weeks, tragedy has struck close to home and left many with, what I would consider, confusion around a young man’s tragic death by autoerotic asphyxiation. You can click on this news article to know about the recent tragedy of which I am speaking.

No one wants to talk about this dangerous form of erotic behavior that often leads to tragic senseless death and especially how it is impacting teenagers. It’s no wonder, in an event like this, it can be hard to know what to say.

But, answering the questions and continuing the conversation is so very important.

Autoerotic asphyxiation is when there is a “high happening in the brain by the deprivation of oxygen. Lowered inhibitions accompany the individual experiencing this lack of oxygen right before they lose consciousness during masturbation. This is one form of “pleasure” that teenagers and adults are experimenting with–in total secrecy. Here is anarticle from a medical source that I would recommend reading if you or your teenager is desiring more information during about autoerotic asphyxiation.

Why would someone choose this form of masturbation?

Many liken this type of brain “high” to be similar to the “high” you get from playing hard and being out of breath, an extensive run that leaves you breathless or those places of laughing yourself to the point of exhaustion. So, it’s hard to say why some would choose this form of masturbation; no one totally knows, but it is chosen by some.

While we as parents really don’t want to believe this could ever be possible with our teenagers, I think the real root of the issue is the shame that surrounds masturbation…especially in Christian environments.

Where do our teenagers go to ask questions? About masturbation? About sex?

What are our teens to do with their physical desire that is rising within their bodies?

Where are they learning about what pleasure really is?

Growing up, I wasn’t really taught about the wonder and beauty of my body. Shame and secrecy were my “go to” coping mechanism with anything that was sexually related. I didn’t have information about my body that was helpful or informative. I especially did not have information about how my body was created AND that the Creator had designed my sexuality as good.

As I write this, my heart goes out to this family that has lost their son and the ways in which they will forever have questions about his death.

My prayer for them is that what robbed this young man of breath, will not be held in silence and shame. But instead that the church would dare to wonder about how they can be a part of educating and finding a language around sexuality that is relevant to us as parents and to our teens.

Does tragedy change us?

What do we do with the pain and the questions?

What if we in the Christian community, learn how to talk about sexuality and things like masturbation without shame?

Could one man’s death be a beacon of light pulled from the darkness?

Might we be reminded that our sexuality is meant to actually connect us to our Creator?

I write this for this man’s parents, family and friends who are seeking to remember him and his life. Though I did not know this young man, I will remember him. And I will pray that his life will scream into the silence that the church has held on this very difficult topic.

Peace, may you rest in peace.

~ b.

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