At least 82 youths between the ages of 6 and 19 have been identified by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as probable victims of “The Choking Game,” according to recent research published in the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. The game, popular primarily among adolescents and also known as “The Black Out Game,” “The Scarf Game,” and “Space Monkey” among other titles, consists of self-strangulation or strangulation by another person to achieve a brief high caused by cerebral hypoxia.
CDC researchers conducted a careful literature review of newspaper articles and choking game-awareness websites, where parents shared confirmable stories of game-related deaths. According to the agency, 3 or fewer game-related deaths appeared to have occurred between 1995 and 2004. In 2005, however, 22 deaths occurred, followed by another 35 deaths in 2006. For unknown reasons, as few as 9 deaths were identified in the first 10 months of 2007. Researchers warn that the study probably underestimates the number of actual deaths.
According to researchers, most deaths appeared to occur in instances where kids were choking themselves alone, and most family members had not heard of “The Choking Game” prior to the death of their child. The agency hopes that education of parents regarding the dangers and warning signs of the game will help to prevent additional deaths. According to the CDC, the following behaviors and warning signs may indicate that a child is engaging in recreational strangulation:
- discussion of the game ––including other terms used for it, such as ‘pass–out game’ or ‘space monkey’;
- bloodshot eyes;
- marks on the neck;
- severe headaches;
- disorientation after spending time alone;
- ropes, scarves, and belts tied to bedroom furniture or doorknobs or found knotted on the floor;
- unexplained presence of things like dog leashes, choke collars and bungee cords
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