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The Choking Game: It's No "Game"

The Choking Game is a dangerous new trend where teens and pre-teens attempt to get a sense of euphoria by cutting off their intake of oxygen. However, the Choking Game is certainly no “game.” This is a dangerous activity which has already resulted in many tragic deaths. 

What is The Choking Game? 

According to the website, Erik’s Cause: 

It Is Not A Game!  The physical goal of this activity is to restrict cerebral blood flow to the point of nearly or actually passing out for a variety of reasons including curiosity, competition, dare, and/or to experience an altered state.  This is accomplished by a variety of methods, the most popular being: 

  • compression of the carotid arteries using hands or a ligature;

  • compression to the chest after hyperventilation;

  • competition or dare to see who can resist passing out the longest under a choke hold (e.g., tap-out or submission holds typically used in mixed martial arts). 

Why is The Choking Game so Dangerous? 

According to the website, Erik’s Cause

What kids do not know is that maintaining one of these techniques may accidentally cause death or injury.  Many kids also try this “game” alone by using a ligature (causing the majority of deaths).  Since they don’t know when they’re actually going to faint – they black out resulting in accidental asphyxiation.  It kills faster than drugs!  It is never safe! 

Kids can become addicted to the choking game because of the euphoria they experience – not realizing that their brain is slowly dying.  The euphoria occurs in two steps (i) when pressure is applied (as blood carrying oxygen decreases) causing a lightheaded dizzy sensation; and then (ii) when pressure is released (as blood carrying oxygen floods the brain) causing a “rush” sensation. The rush only lasts momentarily so kids continue to do it – they don’t realize the potential for brain damage, injury and death. 

Statistics about The Choking Game: 

A recent CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) study analyzed 82 probable Choking Game deaths nationwide over a period of 12 years. This is what they found: 

  • The average age of kids who died was 13

  • Those who died ranged in age from 6-19

  • The majority of kids were playing the game alone when they died, even if they first played it with a group of friends.

  • Boys made up 87% of those who died from this “game”

  • Most of the parents (93%) said they hadn’t heard of the Choking Game until their child died 

How to Prevent Injury and Death from the Choking Game: 

Knowing the very serious risks of this “game” is key. With The Choking Game, there is no learning curve – you can die the first time you try it. And those who don’t die after trying it often try to push themselves further to the point where they finally do cause severe brain injury or death. Some pre-teens and teens are under the impression that The Choking Game is safer than doing drugs – but this is absolutely not true. The risks are just as high, if not higher than certain types of drugs. 

If someone asks you to participate in The Choking Game, say “no” and let that person know you don’t want to be one of the many kids who ends up dying from this. If a friend wants to try it, do everything you can to talk them out of it. If you can’t talk them out of, fake being sick and say you need to go home or come up with some other distraction to get both of you away from the situation. If you know that kids at your school are participating in The Choking Game, tell a staff member at school right away so that they can take steps to intervene. If you uncomfortable being the one to tell a school staff member, you can always write an anonymous note providing whatever information you can that will help them to intervene.