The Choking Game, also known as The Fainting Game, Knock-Out, Airplaning, and Space Monkey, is anything but a game. This dangerous activity is often played by preteens and teens ages 9-16 years old. Police departments and school districts everywhere have been warning parents to speak to their children about the potential hazardous effects of engagement in such behavior. In this activity, kids either practiced alone or in groups with the goal of temporarily stopping the flow of oxygen to their brains by using belts, hands, or plastic bags, in an attempt to become momentarily unconsciousness. The end goal of participation in this type of behavior is to feel a few brief seconds of euphoria, also known as a temporary high, before regaining consciousness.
But not all participants regain consciousness; recently, a New Jersey student strangled himself to death. A survey by the Erik’s Cause website cited that 93% of parents were unaware of the existence of “pass-out” activities. The website also said 90% of children heard about this kind of behavior from their friends. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, this activity caused 82 fatalities from 1995 to 2007. Kids continue to engage in this lethal behavior for reasons including pressure from peers, dares, trying to gain acceptance into a social group, a free way to become intoxicated, or just simply curiosity.
Parents everywhere are encouraged to make sure their children know preventing blood from reaching the brain is not safe in any way, shape, or form. We can help put an end to this harmful activity by looking for the warning signs. It only takes three minutes for the brain to be harmed blood and oxygen are eliminated. Signs one is participating in such behavior include red eyes, bruises on the neck, disorientation, unstable mood, and periods of silence. Knots left in clothing and ropes around the household is also a warning. As a doctor stated, “It is important for children to know about the seriousness of what can happen to their body if they experiment even on time. Any type of asphyxiation, even if temporary, may cause strokes, seizures, retinal damage, brain damage or even death.”