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Why Are Kids Playing ‘The Choking Game’?

Monolingual Hispanic Students Learn English kids classroom
Mario Villafuerte, Getty Images

Kids have always been good at inventing their own playground games.

One game, however, has proven to be quite dangerous for the little guys and gals. It goes by a dozen different names, but it can best be described as the ‘choking game.’

The Oregon Public Health Division conducted a study of 5,400 eighth graders and found that 6.1 percent had played the game at least once in their lives.That’s in line with studies done in other states, as well as Canada.

Among the group of kids in the Oregon study, a staggering 64 percent of them tried it more than once and nearly 27 percent of them played it more than five times.

The game is known by several other monikers, including ‘Knock Out,’ ‘Space Monkey,’ ‘Flatlining’ and ‘The Fainting Game.’ And it’s pretty much what you think it is — players use various means to cut oxygen and brain flow to their necks in a quest to create a high that comes once they allow blood and oxygen to flow freely again.

The game, however, can be quite dangerous and deadly. Eighty-two children from ages 6 to 19 died from 1995 to 2007 as a result of playing it. The Centers for Disease Control reports, however, those are the only known deaths since they were gathered from media reports and often those types of deaths are ruled as suicides or accidents.

New Hampshire’s chief medical examiner Thomas Andrew said parents should be on the lookout for signs such as marks on their children’s necks and if they suspect they are involved in such behavior, they should talk to them and listen to what they have to say.


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