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'Choking Game' Turned Deadly for 82 Youths
Date:2/14/2008

CDC report found surge in fatalities from strangulation game in 2005-2006

THURSDAY, Feb. 14 (HealthDay News) -- At least 82 youths have died from playing the "choking game" since 1995, a new government report shows.

Also known as the "blackout game," "pass out game," "scarf game," "space monkey" and other monikers, the activity involves intentionally trying to strangle oneself or another with hands or some sort of noose to briefly achieve an euphoric state.

Youth apparently hope to get a "cool and dreamy feeling" from the activity, explained Robin L. Toblin, of the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

"Nearly all parents whose children died were not aware of, or familiar with, this activity before the child's death, therefore it's important that parents, educators and health-care providers become aware of the choking game and learn to recognize the warning signs," Toblin said. "If parents believe their child is playing, they should speak to them about the life-threatening dangers and seek additional help if necessary."

Similar games have probably been played for generations, according to Toblin, whose report is published in the Feb. 15 issue of Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, a CDC publication. "What is new is that youth are playing alone and using ligatures which are risk factors that make them more likely to die from this activity," she said.

Almost 96 percent of deaths for which sufficient detail was available occurred while the youth was alone, and 93 percent of parents said they were not aware of the game until their child died.

Ligatures can include T-shirts, scarves, bungee cords, dog leashes and more, said Toblin, who spoke during a Thursday teleconference.

This report is the first attempt to measure the magnitude of the problem nationally. The only prior information on the prevalence
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