The Choking Game
There’s a dangerous new “game” teens are playing — but it’s not really a game at all. A new study focused on Oregon-area teens found that an alarming number of kids have taken part in an activity where peers choke each other to get a feeling of euphoria.
A survey of eight-grade students by the Oregon Public Health department found that more than a third of those eighth-graders had heard about the choking game, almost 3 percent said they had helped someone “get high” off choking, while about 6 percent said they had done it themselves.
The risks of the “game” include minor injury to long-term disability or even death. David Quimby and Sherry Williams of Maine first learned about the game while investigating the death of their 18-year old son, Alex. Alex was found dead while visiting his father in Florida last November. It was initially ruled a suicide but Alex’s parents didn’t believe their son would take his own life.
In speaking with his friends, Alex’s parents found out that he had been taking part in the choking game for a couple of years.
As many as a thousand kids under the age of 18 die from each year from the choking game, but the figure might be even higher as many teen deaths, like Alex’s, are classified as suicides.
How can you know if your child is participating in this dangerous activity? Dr. Mel Kohn of the Oregon Department of Public Health offers these signs:
- Unexplained marks on the neck.
- Bloodshot eyes.
- Ropes, scarves, belts tied to bedroom furniture or doorknobs.
- Unexplained presence of leashes or bungee cords.
- Pinpoint bleeding spots under the skin on the face, especially the eyelids.
- Discussion or mention of the activity.
- Disorientation, especially after spending time alone.