Navigation Links
Deadly 'Choking Game' Still Common Among Kids

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 were more likely to participate in the game than their urban counterparts.

Many children did not answer the strangulation question in the survey, however. "When we looked at kids who didn't respond to this question they were more likely to be male, they were more likely to be from rural areas -- which suggests that our rate may be an underestimate," Ramowski said.

Conventional wisdom has held that children who do not engage in other risky behaviors, such as drugs or drinking, are most likely to play the choking game.

"Our study did not find that," Ramowski said. "What we found was that kids who have engaged in this behavior are much more likely to also have engaged in other health-risk behaviors, have mental health problems, have abused substances," she said.

Ramowski believes that parents, teachers and health care workers need to know about this behavior. The choking game has been underappreciated among public health officials, she said.

"This study is the largest to date that examines the prevalence of young adolescents strangulating themselves because they think it will be fun," said Dr. Karen Sheehan, medical director of the Injury Prevention and Research Center at Children's Memorial Hospital in Chicago.

"This study confirms the smaller studies that strangulation is not a rare event. The next steps will be to find ways to effectively intervene," she said.

Another expert, Dr. Nancy Bass, an associate professor of pediatrics and neurology at Rainbow Babies and Children's Hospital at the University Hospitals Case Medical Center in Cleveland, said her research showed that few doctors knew about the "game."

Bass thinks there may be many more deaths due to the game that are classified as suicides, because the game has been thought to be the "good kids' high."

The fact that there may be more mental health risk factors involved, may be masking these deaths as suicides, "while they may be kids who are participating in this," she said.

"Pediatricians need to talk to kids about this," Bass said. "Pediatricians need to know what the warning signs are. So if you educate pediatricians and family doctors and parents, they can educate kids -- the same as drugs and everything else."

Experts say any of the following signs could indicate that your child is taking part in the choking game:

  • Unexplained marks on the neck.
  • Bloodshot eyes.
  • Ropes, scarves or belts tied to bedroom furniture or doorknobs.
  • Bent closet rods.
  • Out of place leashes or bungee cords.
  • Bleeding under the skin on the face, especially the eyelids.
  • Talking about the choking game.
  • Disorientation, especially after being alone.

More information

For more information on the "choking game," visit the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

SOURCES: Sarah Ramowski, M.S.W., Adolescent Health Policy & Assessment Specialist, Oregon Department of Health, Portland; Karen Sheehan, M.D., medical director, Injury Prevention and Research Center, Children's Memorial Hospital, Chicago; Nancy Bass, M.D., associate professor of pediatrics and neurology, Rainbow Babies and Children's Hospital, University Hospitals Case Medical Center, Cleveland; Jan. 15, 2010, Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report

Copyright©2010 ScoutNews,LLC.
All rights reserved

Related medicine news :

1. Scientists Probe Sepsis Deadly Secrets
2. HIV denialists spread misinformation online -- consequences could be deadly; and more
3. Greeks get space-based help in wake of deadly fires
4. Jefferson scientists find protein may be key in developing deadly form of pancreatic cancer
5. Drug combination might offer hope for patients deadly brain tumors
6. MARCOR Responds to Deadly MRSA Outbreak
7. Common virus may help doctors treat deadly brain tumors
8. A new key to detecting deadly aortic aneurysms
9. Genes Unlock New Treatments for Deadly Melanoma
10. Northwestern exposing most deadly infectious diseases in 3-D
11. Research Lacking on Why Heart Disease is More Deadly for Women
Post Your Comments:
(Date:11/24/2015)... ... November 24, 2015 , ... Sir ... customer service: the TrustDale certification. The award recognizes good companies for excellence in ... , tile and grout, and hard surface restoration company earned this recognition after ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... ... 2015 , ... Autism Speaks, the world’s leading autism science and advocacy organization, ... the generosity of people around the world. On December 1, supporters can make an ... and share the personal stories behind those gifts. , Just as Black Friday ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... ... ... Don Peck’s mother wondered if she was a descendant of Samuel Fuller, a passenger on ... search for information, Don and his aunt discovered that she was not, in fact, related ... was Don’s father who was descended from not one, but four passengers on the famed ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... ... November 24, 2015 , ... Dehydration, defined as a loss ... to perspiration in the hot sun, and heat stroke and death will quickly follow. ... radio host Sharon Kleyne. Every cell, system and structure requires water to function properly. ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... ... November 24, 2015 , ... The ... OSHA Training Institute Education Center in Northern California, is calling on retail employers ... sales events. As the volume of sales and shoppers rapidly expands, retailers ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:11/24/2015)... , November 24, 2015 F1000Workspace ... for scientists - since it was launched just six months ... reference management and authoring platform for scientists - since it ... million references have been loaded on to F1000Workspace ... scientists - since it was launched just six months ago. ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... 24, 2015  Family Rentals, a South ... launch of their newly designed, mobile-responsive website. ... --> Logo - ... --> Now, renting essential items for ... just got a whole lot easier through the ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... NEWTOWN, Pa. , Nov. 24, 2015  NuShield, Inc., an industry leader in LCD screen ... mobile and stationary computer technology as part of their patient monitoring or electronic documentation system. ... ... ... ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: