The Choking Game is a dangerous and misunderstood activity causing death and suffering for thousands of kids around the world.
This dangerous activity that high-achieving teens and early adolescents sometimes play to get a brief high consists of kids either choking each other or using a noose to choke themselves. After just a short time, children can pass out, which may lead to serious injury or even death from hanging or strangulation. They use this as a way to get high without the risk of getting caught with drugs or alcohol. It ends with thousands of kids dying or suffering permanent brain damage each year.
This is something that Ken and Kathy Tork of Wasghington State sadly now know. Their son Kevin was a good kid — a bright and generous 15-year-old who seemed to have everything going for him. But the boy played what is most commonly called the “choking game” — a fad among teenagers that experts say could more accurately be called “suffocation roulette” — and he lost. Kevin was discovered unconscious in his room by his 11-year-old sister on March 30th.
Brian and Malani O’Connor of Connecticut, first heard of the choking game from a nurse in the emergency room the night their 12-year-old son, Evan, died of a choking accident nearly three years ago.
On Oct. 7, medics arrived at Chimacum Middle School in Washington State to care for a student who passed out after being choked by a friend before a third-period class.
When Françoise Cochet saw the cord around her son’s neck, she knew that he was dead. Fully clothed and still wearing his sneakers, 14-year-old Nicolas had strangled himself sometime after dinner in their apartment in Nice, France. His mother found him the next morning. Police ruled out suicide saying that Nicholas accidentally killed himself playing le jeu de foulard (the “scarf game,” as it’s known in France)
A New York City mother who wishes to remain anonymous, overheard her 12-year-old son and his friends talking about choking each other when she passed her son’s room. She immediately called the other parents to her home where they all had a talk with the kids about the dangers of this game.
A study at the CDC’s Injury Center reports, at least 82 children and adolescents have died as a result of playing “the choking game.” Researchers analyzed media reports of deaths of children and adolescents from the choking game.
According to an article in Business Week, as many as 6 percent of Oregon eighth-graders have tried the potentially lethal “choking game,” public health officials warn in a new report.
Thirty percent of kids know someone who has done it.
The support website, ChokingGame.net declares that 25% of youngsters ages 9 – 16 know how the game is played or have played it themselves. Kids think no one ever dies from doing this, but they do. The site, gives parents a series of warning signs.
MySpace and YouTube have videos or written instructions for the choking game.
Parents should look for videos uploaded or downloaded involving these sites.
Who is most at risk for death from playing the choking game?
Boys were much more likely to die from the choking game than girls; 87% of victims were boys.
• Most of the children that died were 11-16 years old (89%).
• Nearly all of the children who died were playing the game alone when they died.
• Deaths have occurred all over the United States; the choking game isn’t limited to one area of the country.
What are the warning signs that a child is playing the choking game?
Parents, educators, health-care providers, or peers may observe any of the following signs that can indicate a child has been involved in the choking game:
• Discussion of the game or its aliases
• Bloodshot eyes
• Marks on the neck
• Wearing high-necked shirts, even in warm weather
• Frequent, severe headaches
• Disorientation after spending time alone
• Increased and uncharacteristic irritability or hostility
• Ropes, scarves, and belts tied to bedroom furniture or doorknobs or found knotted on the floor
• The unexplained presence of dog leashes, choke collars, bungee cords, etc.
• Petechiae (pinpoint bleeding spots) under the skin of the face, especially the eyelids, or the conjunctiva (the lining of the eyelids and eyes)
What are some of the other names used for the choking game?
• Pass-out game
• Space monkey
• Suffocation roulette
• Scarf game
• The American dream
• Fainting game
• Something dreaming game
• Purple hazing
• Blacking out/blackout
• Dream game
• Flat liner
• California choke
• Space cowboy
• Purple dragon
• Cloud nine
How quickly can someone die after playing the choking game?
Someone can become unconscious in a matter of seconds. Within three minutes of continued strangulation (i.e., hanging), basic functions such as memory, balance, and the central nervous system start to fail. Death occurs shortly after.
Are there non-fatal, long-term consequences of the choking game?
• Loss of consciousness and death of brain cells due to oxygen deprivation in the brain; coma and seizures may occur in severe cases
• Concussions or broken bones (including jaws) from falls associated with the choking game
• Hemorrhages of the eye
How can the choking game be prevented?
Parents, educators and health-care providers should and must be informed in order to educate children about the risks to this very dangerous and deadly game.
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