Deadly game growing popular

By Amanda Finnegan
December 1, 2005

A dangerous trend called “the choking game” is growing within teen circles and is claiming young lives.

The choking game, also nicknamed “Space Monkey” or “Black Hole,” is most popular among middle-schoolers. Kids choke one another with a rope, belt or even their bare hands and loosen the grip once they begin to lose consciousness, triggering a head rush. When the supply of oxygen is cut off to the brain and then suddenly rushes back, it creates a risky high.

By cutting of the source of oxygen and blood to the brain, the choking game can lead to brain damage and death. Many of the deaths are initially misdiagnosed as suicides until friends of the deceased come forward and speak up about the taboo game.

Kids are playing the game because of both peer pressure and the five-to-ten second euphoric high it creates. The high can become just as addictive as any drug. The game is particularly dangerous when children play it alone because no one is there to make sure they come out of the unconsciousness.

Sophomore educational studies major Marlana Moore remembers kids from her high school playing a similar game. “I remember kids playing the game by pressing a certain spot on their neck and then passing out. I don’t think anyone realized how much damage it could have caused,” Moore said.

This deadly pass out game claimed the life of 13-year-old Kodee Alcott of Delaware Valley, Pa. in March 2005. Trina Alcott, the mother of the young teen, found her son hanging in their basement. Alcott was an althete and good student. His parents never saw the warning signs.

Dr. Chris Fariello of the Council for Relationships, who was interviewed by “CBS 3 News,” said that “good” kids are drawn to the choking game. “Kids don’t see this as something bad, again it’s not a drug, it’s not alcohol, they haven’t been brainwashed to believe that this is something they shouldn’t do,” Fariello said.

Freshman Greg Matarazzo said that he has seen his friends play the pass out game. “Sometimes it’s pretty scary because they don’t wake up at first. I’ve never heard of anyone doing it with a rope though. That’s new to me,” Matarazzo said.

Warning signs that parents should look for are blood shot eyes, bruises on the neck and complaints of headaches. Health classes across the country are informing students of the dangers of the choking game.

Other school districts like Upper Morland, Pa. are holding information sessions to inform both parents and their children about the risks. Anti-choking game websites have also arose such as which lists over 50 names of children who have died from the choking game. Parents across the country have started a group called PLAY (Parents/Professionals Learning About Accidental Asphyxia Among Youth) in hopes to raise awareness for all the tragic deaths that the choking game has caused.

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Posted to the web by Shane Evans

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Amanda Finnegan

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