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The Choking Game - It's Not a 'Game,' It's A Matter of Life, Death, and Brain Cells

by the Social Diary Safety Educator Columnist Monica Zech
Column #8, March 8th, 2006

Parent: The Deadly Game of "Choking"

Attention Parents and Kids, Adults - As the City's Safety Educator I've become aware of yet another growing trend among youth that has resulted in deadly consequences. It's often called "The Choking Game", although according to a web site dedicated to stopping this so-called "game" http://www.stop-the-choking-game.com/ it's also known as Space Monkey, Fainting, Pass Out Game, Black Out Game, American Dream, Flatliner, Space Cowboy, Knock Out, Gasp, Rising Sun, Airplaning, Hawaiian High, Fainting Game. And there may be other names as well. But, no matter what it's called "it's not a game" and it's killing our children! Please take a moment to read the following information so your aware before it's too late.

First "what is the Choking Game?"
The Choking Game achieves a brief high or euphoric state by stopping the flow of oxygen containing blood to the brain. Sometimes children choke each other until the person being choked passes out. The pressure on the arteries is then released and blood flow to the brain resumes causing a "rush" as consciousness returns. Playing this game in any form causes the permanent and cumulative death of large numbers of brain cells. The variation in blood pressure may also cause strokes, seizures, and retinal damage..

The danger becomes even greater when a ligature is used and the activity is performed by a lone child. If the child loses consciousness and there is no one there to IMMEDIATELY release the pressure, he is unable to help himself. The child will suffer brain damage and death certainly
after three minutes.

What are the Symptoms of this Activity?

There is of course no "test" for this. It is chemically undetectable, however, there are some signs, which raise "red flags":

1. Inexplicable marks or bruises on the throat
2. Frequent severe headaches
3. Redness of the eyes
4. Belts, leashes, ropes, shoelaces tied in strange knots or
found in unusual locations.
5. Unexplained cuts or bruises from falling
6. Disorientation after spending time alone
7. Locked bedroom doors

Note: Not all of these signs may be present.

If I think my child may be doing this, what can I Do?
Supervise the child very closely.
Dispose of items that could be employed for this purpose.
Warn your child about this activity. They often don't know that
this activity can kill them or leave them brain damaged.
Alert school officials so that they can monitor your child. Often
other students may also be participating.
Consider professional counseling and support for your child and
your family.
Check that siblings are not involved in this activity.
Consider alerting your child's friend's parents.

How widespread is this activity?
Deaths have occurred from this activity nationwide, and in other
countries around the world. There are links to articles from some of
these countries on the Links Page of www.stop-the-chokin-game.com
There are, no doubt, more and the list of dead children seems to grow
each day.

What Can I Do to Help Stop This?
Talk to the children in your life, parents and everyone you know who
works with children. Make sure they understand why it is so dangerous
to participate in this activity. I have a hard time calling this a game.
But that's what the kids call it.

(Note): Even if they survive, people who participate, are killing brain cells each
time they do this. The damage done is permanent and cumulative. In addition,
a child choking another child who is injured or dies, may be indicted and
prosecuted for his part in the death or injury.

Insist that the school districts in your area provide education about this
activity as a part of the risky behavior curriculum (drugs and alcohol,
etc.). Doing so insures that all children are warned of the dangers of this
activity. This education should start as early as elementary school as older
children seem to pass this activity to younger ones. Information gathered from

For more safety information please visit our web site at El Cajon Fire.com

* Monica Zech is the Public Information Officer and Safety Educator for the City of El Cajon and for El Cajon Police and Fire Departments. For safety tips please visit El Cajon Fire.com In community work, Zech is the President on the board for the Trauma Research Education Foundation-TREF and a board member with Communities Against Substance Abuse-CASA. In March, Monica received the County's 2005 Individual Health Champion Award for her safety lectures in the community and throughout the county. Email mzech@ci.el-cajon.ca.us and visit Zech's Web Site ,or Monica Zech at (619) 441-1737.

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