Choking Game

-McCaulley Potts

(Defiance, Oh) There have been a lot of dumb and/or silly things teens and even younger ages have participated in, including huffing, purple drank, planking, overdosing on supplements. These events, while always “harmless” can have life altering endings.

The one that seems to be hitting the youth pretty hard lately in the United States is the choking game. Also known as the fainting game, space monkey and other wide range of slang terms such as Pass-out game, Space monkey, Suffocation roulette, Fainting game, etc. The choking game refers to cutting off oxygen to the brain with the goal of inducing temporary syncope, passing out, and euphoria, a feeling or state of intense excitement and happiness. This can leave the person with brain damage, kill brain cells, lead to stroke, and even cause death.

The “fun” comes from self-strangulation where participants cut the oxygen off to the brain; but before they pass out, they stop. Stopping brings on a “high” as the oxygen rushes back to the brain. Self-induced hypocapnia, reduced carbon dioxide in the blood, is very dangerous for the body. Kids and teens are doing this because the high does not come from a testable drug, to rebel against authority, to please their peers, and fitting in.

According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC) there were more than 80 deaths due to self-strangulation in children aged 6 to 19 from 1995-2007. Boys are more likely to die from the choking game, but the behavior is a danger to both boys and girls. These numbers continue to grow as more tweens and teens are losing their lives and damaging themselves for the long term.

Researchers surveyed nearly 5,400 Oregon eighth graders and 6.1 percent reported playing the choking game at least once in their life. Among those who had played, 64 percent had played more than once and 27 percent had played more than five times.

Warning signs of the choking game consist of discussion of the game, or its aliases, bloodshot eyes, marks on the neck, wearing high-necked shirts, 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.

I have witnessed this game being played at the Defiance Wal-Mart myself. It was horrific to watch these teens playing, knowing they were someone’s son, daughter, brother and sister. Work together as a community can help stop this dumb and deadly game.

Even if you are not from the area, this game is something teens played by teens all over the country. Meaning, your siblings back home could be pressured into playing suffocation roulette. As a college we can help spread the dangers of this game in both the Defiance community and the communities we came from.

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