The Choking Game is serious and deadly game that our children are playing. Also known as Pass Out, Knock Out, and the Black Out game, they are costing our children their lives. Because deaths from these games are not reported on the death certificate, tracking them has been difficult for the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). According to the CDC, as the deaths from these games is not distinguished from other unintentional strangulation death, they use media reports and awareness sites.
The Choking Game is played by cutting off oxygen to the brain, bringing on a euphoric state. This can be brought on by using something wrapped around the a person’s neck tightly to squeeze off the oxygen to the brain or by having something heavy placed on their chest. This game is not new, but what is new about it is the fact that more children are playing it alone with deadly consequences.
Neecy Jarman, who lost her son to this deadly game, now brings awareness to others. “Not one more parent should have to suffer the grief that I suffer every day. This is totally preventable. If more parents, teachers and doctors were aware of the signs, we could stop this from happening to another child.” She has created a Facebook page dedicated to bringing awareness to others. Along with the awareness ribbon that she created in memory of her son, who was 13 at the time, she also participates in other events. such as school assemblies and public awareness rallies.
There are several signs parents, teachers, and others may notice in a child who is actively playing this game:
- Discussion about the game or one of it’s many names.
- Blood shot eyes
- Marks on the neck
- Wearing clothing that covers the neck even in warm temperatures
- Frequent or severe headaches
- Disorientation after spending time alone
- Increase hostility or irritability
- Ropes, scarves, or belts attached to furniture or knotted on the floor
- Unexplained presence of dog leashes or collars
- Pinpoint bleeding spots under the skin of the face or especially in the lining of the eyes or eyelids.
There are some long term, non-lethal consequences to this game. These include unconsciousness and brain cell death due to lack of oxygen, seizures or comas can occur, concussions, broken bones, paralysis, and hemorrhages of the eye. While not deadly, these lasting effects can be life long. As a nurse, I have seen the devastating, but non-lethal affects on children.
Being aware of these signs and watching for them is the first line of defense against an accidental death due to strangulation. If you notice these signs in your child or another child, ask them about it. Alert the other child’s parents to the fact that you believe they are playing this game. Talk with your child about the game. A 2008 study in Oregon showed that 36.4% of all 8th graders have heard of the game, and 5.7% have tried it. This is important because the first time they play it may be their last as death can occur. If you notice the signs, take your child to the doctor and have an examination done. They will be able to confirm your fears. From there you can form an attack plan as to best stop them from playing this game.
Getting awareness to parents and others is vital to preventing anymore deaths from this game. Prevention is top priority. Understanding the game, its signs, and life-long effects is the first step to preventing this game from being played.