The Choking Game

A Danger to Nieces and Nephews

Originally published on Savvy Auntie.

According to an article in HealthDay News, a new study has revealed that six percent of eighth graders living in Oregon have participated in the so-called “choking game,” a dangerous diversion in which “blood and oxygen to the brain are cut off with a rope or belt to produce a euphoric ‘high.’” The “choking game,” as defined by the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is performed through the use of a noose; and after a short amount of time, “children can pass out, which may lead to serious injury or even death.” In the years 1995 through 2007, 82 children have died from the game.

Lead researcher Robert Nystrom has been stated that “[if] kids do participate, they are likely to do it more than once.” Researchers are saying that two-thirds of those children have engaged in the practice multiple times and have been involved in other kinds of “risky behaviors.” Nearly 27% of those same children have admitted to doing it more than five times.

So, who is at risk from playing this deadly game, Auntie? According to the CDC, although both males and females appeared to have participated equally, “[boys] were much more likely to die from the choking game than girls; 87% of victims were boys” and “[most] of the children that died were 11-16 years old (89%).” Almost all the children who suffered fatal consequences were playing the game alone at the time of death. Note that fatalities have occurred throughout the United States and that the game is not limited to certain regions of the country.

Auntie, if your nieces and nephews are close to the age of 13, it is important to be aware of the changes that may occur as they transition into adulthood and try to find or form their own identities. Be aware of your nieces’ and nephews’ friends and the types of activities with which they are involved. Stay alert to any behavioral changes that may indicate the potential involvement in “risky behaviors,” such as this choking game or other, similar dangers. Stay vigilant, Auntie, and keep the lines of communication open between you and your nieces and nephews.

What are the warning signs of possible choking game activity? Among a few others, you’ll want to look out for: marks on your niece’s or nephew’s neck; bloodshot eyes and petechiae (pinpoint bleeding spots) under the skin of his or her face, mainly the eyelids, or the conjunctiva (lining of eyelids and eyes). Check out the “CDC’s Findings on a Risky Youth Behavior” for a complete list of potential indicators.

The choking game goes by several other aliases, a few of which include: space monkey, purple hazing, blacking out, flat liner, and space cowboy. If you would like to read a more comprehensive report on the choking game and the resulting unintentional strangulation deaths among youth in America, check out more information here.

Photo: David Castillo Dominici

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