Adolescence is a relatively carefree stage of life. Preteen and teenage years are typically characterized by eager exploration of new ideas. In the bliss of youthful ignorance, too many youngsters get sidetracked and ultimately derailed by destructive past-times. One such fad quite popular in contemporary youth culture is The Choking Game.
Known variously as the “Fainting Game”, “Pass-Out Game”, “Tap Out”, “Hangman”, and “Flatliner,” this hazardous activity is not new. It has a long-standing history on the teenage social scene. The advent of the Internet has led to its much broader promulgation than in years past. Of course, word-of-mouth is also a main mainstay of its continued practice.
A Most Serious Matter
Regardless of the label applied, this amusement is hardly humorous. The essence of The Choking Game is intentional self-asphyxiation. Actual mechanics entail momentary interruption of the brain’s blood supply. Upon resumption of normal circulation, intense euphoria and a “warm” lightheadedness result. Belts, bare hands or even ropes are the types of implements used.
The ultimate “object” is to let go of the ligature just before losing consciousness. Should the child misjudge and pass out before relieving pressure, fatal suffocation may occur. Even youths who survive may suffer strokes, fall injuries or seizures. Each time the “game” is played without apparent incident, millions of brain cells die instantly.
A common motive for adolescent participation in this perilous past-time is conformity. Peer pressure to perform this stunt generally makes it a group practice. Quite often, however, it progresses to a solitary practice.
Estimates of “game”-related casualties have run as high as 1000 deaths annually. True totals likely exceed this, as numerous “suicides” are undoubtedly Choking Game fatalities. The majority of deaths occur among bright, normal kids seeking a “safe” option to illicit drugs.
Prevalent youth perceptions of immortality and invulnerability contribute considerably to the death count. Most teens don’t realize that a mere three minutes of oxygen deprivation results in irreversible brain damage. In four or five minutes, death results.
If you suspect that your child is engaging in this foolhardy folly, be especially vigilant for the following signs:
Suspicious marks on or about the neck;
Ropes, belts or straps in the child’s near proximity without apparent reason;
Thumps, bumps or thuds coming from the child’s bedroom. This could indicate a fall or faint;
Inquiries about suffocation or strangulation precautions.
Parental communication is critical. Warn teens about the extreme hazards involved. Don’t sugarcoat the harsh facts. Your child’s welfare is way too important for mincing words. Make them understand that millions of brain cells are lost each time they take this foolish “dare.”
Explain explicitly that should a friend be hurt or killed in their presence during this high-risk recreation, they may be held legally liable. Closely supervise your children’s activities to ensure their safety. Eliminate possible ligatures from your child’s presence and access.
If necessary, alert school officials and the parents of your child’s friends. Children are our best hope for the future. Help conserve this most precious asset through proactive parental intervention.
About the Author
Crissie C. Luckey, JD is a freelance writer for MyCollegesandCareers.com. My Colleges and Careers helps people determine if an online education is right for them and helps them understand which online courses and online college programs they can choose from to reach their goals.