What is "The Choking Game?"

Communities throughout the U.S. and Europe are enduring the tragic deaths of children as the accidental result of an increasingly pervasive activity commonly known as the “Choking Game”.  This is not a “game” – it can cause brain damage or death, with or without warning signs.

What is it?

It Is Not A Game!  The physical goal of this activity is to restrict cerebral blood flow to the point of nearly or actually passing out for a variety of reasons including curiosity, competition, dare, and/or to experience an altered state.  This is accomplished by a variety of methods, the most popular being:

  • compression of the carotid arteries using hands or a ligature;
  • compression to the chest after hyperventilation;
  • competition or dare to see who can resist passing out the longest under a choke hold (e.g., tap-out or submission holds typically used in mixed martial arts).

What kids do not know is that maintaining one of these techniques may accidentally cause death or injury.  Many kids also try this “game” alone by using a ligature (causing the majority of deaths).  Since they don’t know when they’re actually going to faint – they black out resulting in accidental asphyxiation.  It kills faster than drugs!  It is never safe!

Kids can become addicted to the choking game because of the euphoria they experience – not realizing that their brain is slowly dying.  The euphoria occurs in two steps (i) when pressure is applied (as blood carrying oxygen decreases) causing a lightheaded dizzy sensation; and then (ii) when pressure is released (as blood carrying oxygen floods the brain) causing a “rush” sensation. The rush only lasts momentarily so kids continue to do it – they don’t realize the potential for brain damage, injury and death.

This activity has no sexual component and should not be confused with autoerotic asphyxia (AEA) which may be practiced by older adolescents and adults.

Why is it popular?
The tween/teen years are a time of curiosity and exploration.  Some kids have said that this "game" gives them a feeling of invincibility.  Others say they "play" because of peer pressure, competition or dare.  While most students are taught the risks of drugs and alcohol, the dangers of the choking game go largely unaddressed.  The popularity of the choking game may boil down to one simple fact:  Children and adolescents believe it is safe because they are unaware of its dangers.

What Can You Do?

  • Learn about it
  • Talk with your kids
  • Share this with all your friends
  • Urge your school to incorporate our training into their risk prevention curriculum

Choking game fatalities appear to be on the rise.  Conservative statistics indicate that approximately one child per week in the U.S. and Europe dies from this activity, though the number may well be higher as many choking game deaths are misclassified as suicides.  (Estimates including misclassifications range between 250-1,000 children annually.).  Injuries from the choking game often go unreported.  Statistics also indicate that approximately 75% of all kids have either heard of or engaged in this activity while only 25% of adults are aware it exists.


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commented 2017-12-16 22:19:53 -0800 · Flag
I am grateful that you share this information with us, it will certainly help many people.
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commented 2016-11-09 06:37:18 -0800 · Flag
I do this game all of the time. Actually last night my sister got put in the hospital because of it. And last year at school me and my friend was doing it and when she blacked out she hit her head and it busted open and blood was gushing out of her head and I still not have stopped and I have been put in the hospital 2 times for it and I continue to do it cuz honestly I don’t care I’ve been through a lot of shit in life and I don’t care like I said.
Erik's Cause
Saving lives with a non-graphic, skills-based approach to raise awareness and stop deadly pass-out games (most commonly known as "The Choking Game").

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