Deadly Game - Warning to Parents and Grandparents
Popularity of 'choking game' with youths raises alarm
CDC says lethal pursuit to get high is on the rise
• Bloodshot eyes
• Frequent headaches• Locked doors • Marks on the neck • Knots tied around the bedroom • Wear marks on the bedposts and closet rods • Disorientation after spending time alone For more information see www.stop-the-choking-game.com/en/home.asp
It's a potentially fatal pastime known by many names — the blackout game, the pass-out game and most commonly the "choking game."
The activity, which is gaining popularity among preteens and teenagers in both Houston and across the country, requires that a youngster choke himself or another person to get high. The activity creates an euphoric state as blood rushes back to the brain.
Less than two weeks after the Centers for Disease Control issued its first report on the rising popularity of the act, two Harris County youths were arrested and charged with assault, while a third student received medical treatment after they were caught playing the game at Kingwood Middle School on Wednesday.
According to this month's CDC report, the number of adolescents choking one another to get high has drastically increased as evidenced in the increase of unintentional strangulation deaths — 82 probable choking game deaths from 1995 to 2007.
The Harris County Medical Examiner's Office currently does does not keep track of the number of deaths that may be related to the choking game.
The CDC report used media reports and Web sites created to boost choking game awareness in an attempt to quantify the number of deaths.
The news of the increasing popularity of the activity came too late for Charlene Sandel of Huntsville. Her son's March 7, 2007, death became one of the first in the state to be ruled accidental asphyxia due to the choking game.
"It was one of the first, if not the first, ruling of its kind in the state of Texas," she said.
Blake Sandel, 16, was a high school sophomore and a member of the Future Farmers of America. On the afternoon of his death, the teen had planned to attend the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo.
Sandel believes her son would not have continued to play the game if he'd known the ultimate cost. Since his death, she has dedicated her time to spreading the word about the risky activity.
"It's not the legacy I wanted for my son, but it's apparently the legacy he is meant to have," Sandel said. "I'm just his footsoldier."
In townSandel, a board member of the nonprofit organization Games Adolescents Shouldn't Play (GASP), will welcome a nationally recognized choking game educator, Pennsylvania police officer Scott Metheny, as he visits Houston-area schools next week. He'll educate students, teachers and nurses on the deadly game. One of their stops will be Kingwood. Their Kingwood visit was planned prior to Wednesday's arrests, signaling more education is needed, she said.
"This is a growing trend — and lack of information is allowing it to explode," Sandel said. "Like drugs, sex, cigarettes and everything else we need to tell these kids exactly what can happen. On the Internet you'll find video of kids talking about how woozy you feel, how funny you look when you play the game, like it's a big ha, ha, ha."
"It's not funny — it can be deadly, has been deadly," she said.
Humble ISD spokeswoman Karen Collier said the Kingwood students, all eighth-grade boys, were found around 1 p.m. Wednesday afternoon by a teacher, playing the choking game.
"The child was almost unconscious," Collier said.
Metheny first created a presentation now used nationally to educate children and adults about the choking game after hearing about it while teaching a DARE class in 2005.
"At first I dismissed it, said it was stupid," Metheny said.
Communication as a toolWithin days, several mothers approached him, offering that the choking game had been played at a slumber party of eighth-grade girls. Within a few weeks an 11-year-old boy died after playing the game.
"Most parents have no idea that their kids are playing this game. When I give the presentation, more than 70 percent of the kids have heard of the game, but only 20 percent of the parents know about it. And the kids don't realize the risk they're taking," Metheny said.
He added that communication is the best tool parents and educators can use to protect children.
"Inevitably, when I talk about the choking game someone will say, 'I don't want to talk about it — I don't want to plant a seed.' I tell them that they wouldn't send their kid to school for a test without studying for it, without knowledge. It's the same thing — the kids are the ones who decide whether or not to play this game and the more they know the better," Metheny said.
Children may play the "game" just for the rush as blood returns to the brain. However, adults play the game to intensify the pleasure of sexual climax. Regardless of the motivation, it is a deadly game. Children need to know the dangers. Don't be bashful; TEACH your children!
The adult "game" : Erotic asphyxiation - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
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