The Choking Game, a craze where teenagers share a video of themselves on social media choking until they pass out, has resurfaced. It’s spreading across the Internet like wildfire with hashtags such as #thechokinggame and #passoutchallenge. Although the act is as senseless as it is immoral, calling it a game doesn’t give due justice to the reported 900 lives it has claimed.
The idea of choking oneself to achieve a sense of euphoria is not a new practice, but thanks to the onset of the Internet and social media, teenagers can now casually trade videos of themselves doing it like you or I would trade baseball cards. The Choking Game, also known as "blackout," "the fainting game," "pass out," or "suffocation" gives the individual a momentary high and what is described as a feeling of a near-death experience, Opposing Views reported.
Unfortunately, if done for too long, the near-death experience quickly becomes an actual death experience, with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reporting that "Within three minutes of continued strangulation (i.e., hanging), basic functions such as memory, balance, and the central nervous system start to fail. Death occurs shortly after.” For the survivors, prolonged deprivation of oxygen to the brain is known to cause coma, seizures, concussions, and hemorrhages of the eye. “Basically what they’re accomplishing is they’re starving their brain for oxygen. In the scenario with the video, the children will hyperventilate, which will decrease the CO2 in the blood, and the CO2 is the gas that causes the brain to breathe,” Dr. Matt Bruckel told KTVI.
Often the act is done in pairs, with each individual taking turns choking the other. However, when an individual dies while choking alone, it is believed that the death is often wrongly written off as a suicide rather than a round of the Choking Game gone wrong. Boys are much more likely to die during the practice, with males making up 87 percent of all deaths, according to CDC records. To give teenagers some credit, they aren’t the only culprits. Adults engage in the dangerous action as well, although they are less likely to advertise it over the Internet. Earlier this week, an ex-police officer was charged killing two women by choking them to death during a sexual act.
The mom of a 12-year-old boy who died playing the Choking Game is doing everything in her capacity to warn other parents and young teenagers of the poorly named game’s danger. A lot of the time it starts out with one kid showing another. When they play by themselves, it can be anything from a shoe string to a belt, a dog leash… anything they can tie,” explained Petra Verhoeven-Jordan to KTVI. She’s created a website in hopes of further spreading awareness and even offers to give free seminars at school to educate students on the serious health risks.