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Parents Be Aware: 'The Choking Game' Poses Dangerous Threat to Local Youth


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The 'Game' Has Taken the Lives of Two Lincoln Teens

This article was originally posted in 2007. This past Friday, a David City Aquinas 6th grader passed away from participating in this dangerous game, so we have decided to re-post the article. 

PARENTS: For more information on the Choking Game, and what you can do to help eliminate it, please click HERE to view the G.A.S.P. (Games Adolescents Shouldn't Play) web site to read their article "Help GASP stop the Choking Game before it hits close to home."

Think the topic isn't relevant to Nebraska teens? Please read the following:

"My son died November 5 from this 'game'. I want these kids to know that it is deadly. He is the 2nd boy in our community (Lincoln) to die in 6 months from this. Please forward this to the Wahoo High School. This is a link to my son's memorial page that his friends have set up for him: http://www.myspace.com/neverwillbeforgotten
I am willing to provide education, be a spokesperson or whatever someone needs. I know the mother of the other boy would also be interested in being involved also.
Thank You for doing a story on this. It needs to be addressed."

Julie Beasley
Pleasant Dale, NE

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Article below written by Brad Freidel, DO:

Games are a very important part of the maturation process of most vertebrates in the animal kingdom. Games allow for the young, inexperienced members of a group to prepare for future obstacles as part of a survival tactic. Humans are no different. We play games for physical, intellectual, and mental development. There is one game, however, that is becoming popular with our nation's youth which has no educational or social benefit . . . The Choking Game.

The Choking Game goes by many names -- suffocation roulette, the fainting game, space monkey, blackout, the pass-out game, the asphyxiation game, and flat liner, to name several. All have potentially devastating consequences. Whatever they call it, kids are gambling on cheating death. Most parents and adults have never heard these names or expressions, but for many of the nation's middle and high school kids, it is an open secret: choking yourself or having a friend do it for you, passing out and reviving -- waiting for that euphoric 10-second high as oxygen rushes back to the brain. They choke themselves with belts, ropes, ties, their own bare hands, or any type of ligature, to deprive their brains of oxygen and get a drug-like high.

There are two parts to the experience. First, the high is when there's light-headedness due to reduced blood flow and therefore a reduced flow of oxygen to the brain. The second part, the rush, comes with the removal of pressure on the chest or neck, which releases a powerful surge of dammed up blood through the carotid arteries into the stupefied brain. When oxygen and/or blood are deprived from the brain, immediately, cells die. Some of the potential consequences of this cell death are seizures, brain damage, stroke, persistent vegetative state (brain death), or unexpected death. This is something the kids do not seem to be talking about openly, and often the deaths, when they occur, are misdiagnosed as suicides.

More and more kids seem to be playing the Choking Game, and not just your stereotypical "troubled teens" per child psychologists.

"It is very prevalent. This is an age when kids like to experiment with their bodies and with different feelings," says Dr. Lawrence Shapiro. This activity doesn't discriminate between gender, race, or status. Boys and girls alike seem to be playing. Some do it because of peer pressure or the entertainment value, but most do it for the quick 5 to 10-second euphoria it creates. Some children describe it as "like a drug". The quest for this high may become addictive, leading to a more dangerous situation in which the child needs a "fix" and will self-asphyxiate with ligature. The misconception among adolescents, however, is the feeling that as long as drugs and alcohol are not involved, nothing is amiss. The most common age ranges for kids playing this is between 9 and 14, middle school age and early high school age kids. And it is here in Wahoo. 

I recently sat down with a group of local high school students to get some insight about this choking game. Most students freely talked about acquaintances, friends, or even family members participating. Some had only heard of instances, while others have participated. Most felt that even the fact that we were discussing it seemed silly or blown out of proportion. They were certain they were doing nothing harmful, and these episodes were more or less just adolescent pranks. These students' juvenile sense of invincibility, coupled with their inadequate knowledge base and suspicion of any information coming from an adult is, of course, where the inherent danger lies.  

What are parents and teachers to look for as warning signs? There may be none; however, certain things can lead one to be more vigilant: Inexplicable bruising and/or red marks around the neck; ligatures (bed sheets, belts, tee-shirts, etc.) tied in strange places; frequent and often severe headaches; wear marks on the furniture; disorientation and/or grogginess after being alone; bloodshot eyes, or pinpoint bruising around the eyes; and changes in attitude (aggressive behavior). 

The best prevention is open and honest discussions with your children. Talk about the dangers, keeping in mind adolescents feel it's 'just passing out' because it's not doing drugs or something illegal. Tell them that EVERY time they are risking DEATH - their brain cells and themselves.

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For more information, tips for parents, and references, please click the link below in "Related Sites" to access the Connect with Kids web site about The Choking Game.

Related Sites

Note: Pages will open in a new browser window. External pages are not endorsed by Wahoo Public Schools.

E-mail Article

'The Choking Game' Poses Dangerous Threat to Local Youth

Julie Beasley
Pleasant Dale RN

Jan 06, 2007

My son died Nov. 5th from this "game". I want these kids to know that it is deadly. He is the 2nd boy in our community (Lincoln) to die in 6 mo from this. Please forward this to the Wahoo High School. This is a link to my son's memorial page that his friends have set up for him. I'm sure the kids will know what to do with it. http://www.myspace.com/neverwillbeforgotten I am willing to provide education, be a spokesperson or whatever someone needs. I know the mother of the other boy would also be interested in being involved also. Thank You for doing a story on this. It needs to be addressed. Julie Beasley P.O. Box 162 Pleasant Dale, NE 68423 402-202-0964

Wahoo Public Schools2201 N. Locust StreetWahoo, NE  68066

402-443-3051Fax: 402-443-4731

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