This is really a pastime?
According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC) describes the choking game as, “an activity where pressure is applied to the neck/carotid artery to limit oxygen and blood flow; once the pressure is released, a ‘high’ or euphoric feeling might be achieved as blood and oxygen rush back to the brain. …Participation in this activity can lead to serious injury or death.” (1)
Also known as “knock out”, “black out”, and “the fainting game”, an estimated 5-11% of teens have “played,” risking seizures, coma, concussions and even death. “There’s always a fine line between fainting, especially in something like that, and permanently dying. Looks basically the same but with fainting you wake up,” said Dr. Alex Kitzis with Providence St. Vincent Hospital in Portland. “Some of these kids just don’t wake up and that’s the tragedy of it, of course.” (2)
Scary new data
Using data collected in 2009 as part of the Oregon Healthy Teens, researchers discovered:
(1): 22% of the students had heard of someone playing the choking game and 6.1% had done so themselves. Among those who had played, 64% had tried it more than once and 27% had done so more than five times.
Students who were identified as Pacific Islanders were about five times more likely than white students to say they had played the choking game. Among boys, black students were more than three times more likely than whites to have tried it. One-third of 11th graders had heard of someone playing the choking game; 7.6% said they had played it themselves and 1.7% said they had helped someone else do it.
At least 82 children between the ages of 6 and 19 are known to have died while playing the choking game, according to the CDC, although the true toll is probably higher because there’s no reliable system for counting such deaths.
Researchers from the CDC’s Division of Unintentional Injury Prevention also found that kids who play the choking game are more likely to be sexually active, experience violence, become involved with gambling and are prone to mental health problems.
Parents, be on the lookout for warning signs that your child is playing the choking game. Signs could be marks on the neck, bloodshot eyes, headaches and irritability. Parents may also see the presence of belts or scarves hanging in strange places in their child’s bedroom — red flags that should alert parents to immediately investigate into their teen’s behavior.