Mike Stobbe in Atlanta The Guardian,
Friday February 15 2008 Article history
At least 82 youths in the US have died from a "choking game", according to the first official tally of such fatalities.
In the so-called game, a leash or rope is wrapped around the neck to temporarily cut the blood supply to the brain. The goal is a dreamlike, floating-in-space feeling when blood rushes back into the brain. Up to 20% of teenagers and pre-teens play the game, sometimes in groups, according to some estimates based on local studies. But nearly all the deaths were of those who played alone, according to the count compiled by the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
It took reports in the media and by advocacy groups from 1995 to 2007, and found 82 fatalities of young people aged from six to 19 – 90% of whom were boys. The CDC did not include cases in which it was unclear if the death was from the choking game or if it was a suicide. They also did not include deaths that involved autoerotic asphyxiation, which is self-strangulation during masturbation.
The authors of the report said the real total is probably higher – but they were unable to rely on death certificates, which do not differentiate between choking-game deaths and other unintentional strangulation deaths.
The CDC started the study after receiving a letter last year from a doctor in Tacoma, Washington, who said her 13-year-old son died from playing the game in 2005. CDC officials urged parents to be aware the fad exists.
Many of the children who died from the choking game were described as bright, athletic students who apparently were intrigued by a method of getting high that does not involve drugs or alcohol.