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“Choking game” shocks researchers

Research on dangerous game popular amongst teens has produced shocking findings.

A game played by 6% of teens which involves cutting off oxygen to the brain by using rope or a belt to produce a euphoric high is also linked to other risk-taking behaviour, researchers have found, according to a report.

Of the 6% of kids who had admitted to playing the game, two-thirds confessed to playing it repeatedly. Researchers also found that the kids most likely to play the choking game were also at a far higher risk of engaging in substance abuse and sexual activity.

Deadly fun

The Centre for Disease Control, US, explains: “Those who play the game, also called Knock Out, Space Monkey, Flatlining or the Fainting Game, can lose consciousness within seconds, according to the CDC. Within three minutes of continued strangulation, such as hanging, basic body functions such as memory, balance and the central nervous system can fail. Death can occur shortly after”.

There have been at least 82 deaths linked to the dangerous game in the past decade.

The research, conducted in the US, polled 5 400 kids between the ages of 13 and 15, an age which is emotionally volatile, and a period when kids are likely to experiment with new experiences, although the figure of 6% had not been expected.

According to lead researcher Robert Nylstrom, girls who engaged in the game were more likely to gamble and have poor nutrition; boys were more likely to be exposed to violence.

Dr. Dennis Woo, a staff paediatrician at the UCLA Medical Centre, advised parents to watch out for the following telltale signs that their kids may be playing the dangerous game:

•    Be aware of your children's friends and their activities.
•    Be alert to behaviour changes, such as suddenly not doing well in school
•    Look out for marks on the neck, red dots around the eyelid (reflecting haemorrhage) and
•    unexplained headaches, and call a family healthcare professional if participation in the game or other risky behaviour was suspected.

The choking game has been played in SA schools, with tragic consequences.


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By: Scott Dunlop

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