The choking game is “self-strangulation or strangulation by another person with the hands or a noose to achieve a brief euphoric state caused by cerebral hypoxia (deprivation of adequate oxygen to the brain)”. After a very short time, teens pass out, which may lead to serious injury or death from hanging or strangulation.
WHO’S AT RISK:
- Boys are much more likely to die than girls; 87% of victim’s are boys.
- Most teens who die are 11 to 16 years of age.
- Nearly all teens who die play the game alone
OTHER NAMES USED FOR THE "CHOKING GAME" INCLUDE:
- The pass-out game
- Space Monkey
- Suffocation Roulette
- Scarf game
- Space Cowboy
WHY DO TEENS CHOOSE TO CHOKE?
- A brief sense of euphoria
- An altered state of consciousness
- Peer pressure
- Enhanced erotic feelings
- Entertainment-peers lose consciousness/behave erratically
- A ‘floaty’, ‘tingling’, ‘high’ sensation
Unlike other risk-taking activities, self-choking often occurs among well-adjusted, high-achieving teens. The most common age is 9 to 16 and predominantly male.
WARNING SIGNS THAT YOUR CHILD MAY BE PLAYING THE "CHOKING GAME":
TEENS CAN BECOME UNCONSCIOUS IN A MATTER OF SECONDS. WITHIN 3 MINUTES OF CONTINUED STRANGULATION (i.e. hanging), BASIC FUNCTIONS, SUCH AS MEMORY, BALANCE & THE CENTRAL NERVOUS SYSTEM START TO FAIL. DEATH OCCURS SHORTLY AFTER. (When a teen chokes alone & becomes unconscious, there is no one to release the pressure off the noose & their own body weight on the ligature usually results in death.)
OTHER LONG-TERM CONSEQUENCES:
- Loss of consciousness & death of brain cells due to oxygen deprivation in the brain
- Concussions or broken bones from falls
- Hemorrhages of the eyes
- Brain damage
Acording to the CDC, “the earliest choking game death was identified as occurring in 1995. Three or fewer deaths occurred annually during 1995-2004. However, 22 deaths occurred in 2005, 35 in 2006 & 9 in 2007. 71 of the 82 deaths were male, and the age range was 6-19 years, with a mean age of 13. Among the 70 deaths for which sufficient detail was reported, 39 were alone & 92.9% of the parents said they were unaware of the choking game until the death of their child.
The findings in the above report may be subject to limitations, because of miscategorized deaths. There were 5,101 teens age 6-19 years whose deaths were deemed suicide by hanging/suffocation during 1999-2005.
According to The DB Foundation, a survey was given to 500 boys and 500 girls ages 10-14 to assess their knowledge and participation of the choking game:
- Of the boys surveyed, 53% admitted to playing.
- Of those who had played, 86% admitted to playing 2 times a week.
- 64% admitted to playing alone.
- When asked where they had learned of the game and where they had played, the number one answer for both was “at school”.
If you find your child is participating in the choking game:
- Increase supervision - be aware of your child’s activities and whereabouts.
- Remove any paraphernalia that could be used as a ligature.
- Alert school personnel. If one student is involved, there are probably others.
- Alert the parents of your teen’s friends.
- If an older teen is involved, younger children in the same family maybe at risk.
Below is a video on a teen who played the choking game & the dangers involved.