The Choking Game

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The Choking Game Is Deadly

News out that kids who are looking for an easy, cheap, and pretty much undetectable high are choking themselves with belts, ties, ropes and dog leashes. The ligatures cut off oxygen to their brain to the point that they pass out. They describe experiencing a dream-like state. In fact, in Ireland this game is known as “The American Dream.” Elsewhere it’s known as the “Choking game”, “Fainting game”, “Something dreaming game,” etc.

Often, in this deadly practice, there is a choker and a chokee. This is dangerous enough as a child puts her life in someone elses hands. (Would you bet your life on the judgment of a 12 year old?) More and more often, though, kids are doing this alone with predictable consequences.


Children playing this deadly game alone have only a small window of opportunity in which to loosen the knot before they pass out. If they miscalculate and collapse before they can untie themselves they will likely fall and asphyxiate.

Recent news reports include a 10 year old boy who hung himself from a tree in Idaho. Also in Idaho, a 13 year old girl who was found hanging in her closet and in California a kid was found by his twin brother with a belt around his neck and his math book in his lap. He’d been dead for hours.

Warning signs parents should look for are headaches; unusual marks around a kid’s neck; ropes or scarves or belts tied to bedroom furniture or doorknobs or found knotted on the floor; increased hostility and bloodshot eyes.

In addition, any parents who are allowing their kids access to the Internet and are not checking the history of sites visited are simply asking for trouble. Information on this game is freely available on the internet. Let’s face it, everything is freely available on the Internet.

The most instructive part of this recent spate of stories on the “Choking Game” is that human nature will out. We all need to escape every once in a while. Look inside yourself and see how you handle it. TV, beer, running, sleeping? Teens and pre-teens are no different. They experience pressures and stress in school these days which would have been unimaginable to their parents. They need a release every once in a while.

Even “good kids”, who would never dream of taking a toke off of a joint or drink hard liquor, feel the pull to go into an altered state every once in a while. If they’re smart, they’ll get it from sports, food or lose themselves in a video game. If they’re not smart ,or they just want to fit in, they can opt for something far more deadly.

It’s impossible for parents to talk about every conceivable hazard and dangerous practice out there. For one thing they don’t know about them. Most parents have never heard about this “choking” game – but kids as young as sixth-graders have. The mother of a young girl who recently strangled herself while playing this game had actually had heart-to-heart talks about drugs with her daughter. Somehow the child didn’t generalize this advice to other, less traditional, forms of getting high.

What parents can do is talk to their kids about how they handle stress and how they choose to escape from it. They can open a non-judgmental line of communication on peer pressure, anxiety and curiosity; acknowledge the fact that we all feel the need to get out of our heads and our skins at one time .

If parents have experimented in their past they should feel free to share this information. Adolescents can sniff out a hypocrite a mile away. There’s no substitute for communication. As a parent, you talk and talk and talk again. And then you listen.

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Posted December 26, 2017 by David Peterson in category "Parenting