Seattle Mama Doc 101: What is the Choking Game? June 24, 2011 6 Comments https://www.gaspinfo.com/en/home.html https://www.gaspinfo.com/en/flash_vid.html 40 SHARES Share on Facebook Tweet Follow us
Thanks for bringing this topic to your blog, Dr. Swanson. I know many parents and health care providers are not well-informed on this sad and potentially deadly “game”.
Guess we need to add this to our long list of “safety topics” along with cigarettes, alcohol, other drugs, safe driving habits, interactions with strangers, internet safety…Is this the most difficult time to be a parent, or does every generation of parents think that? Thanks again!
Jen B. says
I remember this… I remember a bunch of us playing it at grade school and junior high sleepovers when I was a kid, about 20 years ago! It seemed in the same category as Ouija boards and turning off the lights in the bathroom and chanting “Bloody Mary”- scary, fun, and forbidden.
I innocently reported it to my father, who was appalled and informed me I could get brain damage, and called some parents to let them know what was going on. One informed parent can be a resource to ten others!
Thank you for sharing this information. I lost my first-born to this game a decade ago, who innocently thought it safe way to have fun, to get a “high” without having to indulge in drugs or alcohol. He was an amazing teen — advanced grades, athletic, musical, joined the right clubs, etc. — not your typical risk-taker. Again, he likely assumed this was a safe activity. Sadly, it’s prevalent to an age group where feeling invincible is the norm. Continuous education is necessary; this isn’t a one-time only lesson. Maintaining open communication is a must between parents and adolescents, but as I found out the hard way, this still doesn’t prevent youth from keeping secrets. One of the reasons this isn’t widely known is that there is no “cause of death” (by a medical examiner) attributed to the choking game. And it’s often mistaken for suicide and easily dismissed as asphyxiation with no cause given. The seriousness of this practice does not receive as much attention as it should; we’ve heard of multiple youth who have died from this. My life, that of my husband, our other children and many other friends and family members were forever changed. And unfortunately, it might have been easily prevented.
Wendy Sue Swanson, MD says
Thanks for sharing here, KP. I’m so sorry to hear about your son.
Do you have any other links for education/prevention you think we should know about?
There’s a lot of info available on the Internet, offering facts, real-life stories, and some with actual media images of victims. I’m not certain the real-life images offer much more than a voyeuristic experience for visitors of those sites. My best advice is to just be honest and non-judgmental in your communication with your teen/youth and even if they try to push you away, don’t allow the communication to cease. It might help to talk about the full extent of risks (in detail) associated with specific behaviors and to note that sometimes the choices we make as social beings affects others as well. Another option is to offer alternative \safe risks\ for youth; what comes to mind is anything that is challenging and doable — things like wilderness activities, buddy sports, and/or personal challenge sports. (I often wonder if our culture doesn’t offer enough safe risk for our children/youth, and might that direct them towards taking unnecessary risks — do you think that perhaps risk-taking is an important part of the human maturation process and we’ve filtered it out for our youth?) Don’t assume your child is aware of life’s harsh realities or that he/she would \know better than that.\ Teens don’t always take into account what they know. Finally, as a grieving mom, I’ve played out scenarios of \what I would do differently\ a million times in my mind, but I’ve come to accept that no matter how I try to scheme about the past, it won’t ever change. I wish I’d educated myself more and shared what I know with my son. That’s my harsh reality; don’t let it be yours.
I went over to a friend’s house for a play date, and our four year old kids were happily playing in the living room while we chatted and got lunch ready. I stepped around the corner to keep checking on them and one of them was sitting on top of the other’s chest, with her hands around his neck. When I asked them what they were doing, they giggled and said chocking game like it was a new fun thing they had learned. I was so taken aback with fear that I felt lightheaded all of a sudden. While I knew of the choking game, read about it, at no point did I think it would become an issue until my son was several years older but there it was… plain and simple at four years old.
My heart goes out to you KP, for I agree that no matter how much rational communication we sustain with our children there are those years where risk is just part of the equation and there is much we cannot control or beat ourselves up trying to prevent. We provide the tools, the guidance and the best possible environment and community and then we hope everyone crosses the river to the other side but it’s a crapshoot at that point.