MOUNT VERNON, Maine (WGME) — A grieving father says his teenage son died last week while trying a dangerous sex act and now he's hoping to raise awareness to save others from the same fate.
"I don't think there was a day in Alex's life that he didn't laugh and smile," said John Veilleux.
Veilleux said his son, Alex, 18, had gotten his high school diploma and was planning to go into the Air Force, when his life was cut short.
Last Tuesday, Vielleux found Alex hanging from a beam in the garage, his clothes in a pile on the ground.
"There he was," said Vielleux. "Just disbelief."
He said he cut the rope and performed CPR, but it was too late.
"I couldn't understand why he would do it," Vielleux said.
He thought his son had committed suicide, but said police told him Alex died from auto-erotic asphyxiation, the act of strangling or suffocating oneself for heightened sexual arousal.
Veilleux said investigators found clues on Alex's laptop.
"They opened it up and it was opened on the page of the website showing how to do this," he said.
Vielleux said it came as a shock.
"We do our best to teach our kids the dangers of drugs and alcohol and reckless driving and teen pregnancies and all of these things, but this was a new one to me," he said. "I'd never heard of it. If we had, Alex would be with us today because he and I would have talked about it. We talked about everything."
Instead, he said, people like Alex learn about it on the Internet and are quick to give it a shot without realizing the consequences.
"I think he felt that he would be in control and he could experience this, this Utopia or whatever it is, this euphoric moment and he would be all set and he could get himself down off the ladder," Veilleux said. "But he succumbed to it by passing out and was not able to wake up."
Vielleux hopes to raise awareness about the dangerous, but taboo topic. He believes it should start with parents talking to their kids, and eventually be added to the sex-education curriculum in schools.
"I hope people will acknowledge this isn't just something you hear in the tabloids or see on television. This is right here at home."
Alex would have turned 19 next week. Vielleux said a celebration of life is scheduled for Saturday.
A spokesperson said the Maine Centers for Disease Control and Prevention does not routinely track the number of deaths from erotic asphyxiation on the state level and is not aware of any national data either.