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Deadly 'Choking Game' Still Common Among Kids
Date:1/14/2010

6 percent of those responding to Oregon poll said they tried the dangerous pastime

THURSDAY, Jan. 14 (HealthDay News) -- As many as 6 percent of Oregon eighth-graders have tried the potentially lethal "choking game," public health officials warn in a new report.

Also known as the "blackout game," "pass-out game," "scarf game" and "space monkey," among other names, the activity involves intentionally trying to strangle oneself or another by using the hands or some sort of noose to briefly achieve a euphoric state.

But the "game" can also cause seizures, headaches, bone breaks and brain injury -- and death.

"We are just beginning to understand this behavior," said lead researcher Sarah Ramowski, an Adolescent Health Policy & Assessment Specialist in the Oregon Department of Health.

"We know that there are a significant number of kids who have participated and it has high awareness among youth -- one in three youths know about this behavior," she added.

Whether the problem is the same in other states, Ramowski would not speculate. However, early in 2008 the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported 82 child and adolescent deaths between 1995 and 2007 linked to the choking game. The deaths occurred across 31 states, and included the death of an Oregon sixth-grader who fell victim to the choking game in 2006.

The new report is published in the Jan. 15 issue of the CDC journal Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

For the study, Ramowski's group collected data on almost 11,000 eighth graders from 114 schools. Of these, nearly 7,800 answered a question about strangulation.

The researchers found that about one in three had heard of someone playing the choking game. In addition, almost 3 percent had helped someone and about 6 percent said they had taken part in the game.

Ramowski's group also found that children in rural areas wer
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