What Is the Choking Game?
"Spin the Bottle" and "Truth or Dare" aren't the only games preteens and teens play these days - some kids are now participating in a new fad that's anything but innocent child's play. According to the first government report on this dangerous trend, kids from all across the country are dying from the "choking game" the extremely risky practice of strangling yourself (or being strangled by someone else) to get a quick high from the oxygen being cut off from the brain.
Looking at media reports and two awareness websites about the game, researchers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that at least 82 kids and teens from 31 states have died from the dangerous strangulation game since 1995.
Preteens and young teens are choking, strangling, or hanging themselves (or having a friend do it) with some sort of noose anything from dog leashes to scarves to bungee cords. And kids are doing something so bizarre and dangerous simply because it offers a fast and free high. Depriving the brain of oxygen can induce tingling or a mild euphoria because of its effects on the cells of the nervous system.
The disturbing CDC report says most of the kids who died were:
- boys (87%)
- 11 to 16 years old (89%) (age 13 on average)
- alone when they died (96%)
The report also points out that, according to a 2006 Williams County (Ohio) Youth Health Risk Behavioral Survey, more than 10% of 12- to 18-year-olds and nearly 20% of 17- to 18-year-olds played this potentially fatal game.
According to a CDC research update (separate from the report), kids playing this so-called game can pass out within seconds. And after 3 minutes of hanging or strangling, their balance, memory, and nervous system begin to shut down which is quickly followed by a senseless accidental death. And those who don't die can lose consciousness (and brain cells), suffer concussions or broken bones when they fall during or after the game, have seizures, and even go into a coma. 
- NY Department of Health Choking Game Prevention
- For Kevin's Sake: STOP the Choking Game
- American Counseling Association: Dying to Play the Choking Game
Make a Report
Anyone who is playing the Choking Game needs to seek help to find solutions for dealing with this issue. This could be through a school counselor or a professional therapist or a support group. Whatever the setting, the outcome should be finding healthy outlets for overwhelming feelings. If you, or someone you know, is struggling with the Choking Game and you don't know where to turn for help, you can always start by making a report to Safe2Tell Colorado. Call 1-877-542-7233, make a webreport using the submit a tip button, or download the Safe2Tell Colorado mobile app on the Apple Store or Google Play.
 Children's Hospital Colorado