As many as 1 in 15 eighth-graders admit to playing a potentially deadly “choking game,” in which a belt or rope is tied around the neck to cut off oxygen to the brain then released to produce a “high” as blood rushes back to the head.
About 6.1 percent of boys and girls said they have played the game, which poses a risk of asphyxiation, according to a new survey by Oregon health researchers published in the journal Pediatrics. They also found those who played the game were also more likely to engage in other dangerous activities.
The findings were based on the 2009 Oregon Healthy Teens survey of 5348 eighth-graders questioned about whether they had played the choking game and how often. The survey also asked about physical and mental health, gambling, sex, nutrition, physical activity, exposure to violence and drug and alcohol use.
About 64 percent of the eighth-graders who played the choking game had done it more than once; more than 1 in 4 had played more than give times. Those who engaged in the activity were also more likely to be sexually active and consumer drugs or alcohol. Blacks were more likely to participate than whites.
Researchers said doctors should ask kids and teens about the choking game in wellness exams and discuss the dangers of engaging in this activity. Federal health officials have noted the game can cause brain damage and death, and that 82 children are known to have died from the activity.