According to recent news articles from sources such as Time and Jezebel, there is a new way teens are getting high. Operating under euphemisms such as Space Monkey, Pass out, The Fainting Game, and The Choking Game- strangulation is the new fad. This “game” is pretty self explanatory and easy to play, which is one of its appeals. It can be “played” either by yourself or in a group. There are various methods, but no matter how it is achieved, deprivation of blood to the brain creates a euphoria or “high” feeling. When the pressure is released the blood goes rushing back into the brain creating another secondary high.
While “The Choking Game” has a similar appeal to drugs or alcohol; the rush of feeling, an experience of being high, it does not involve money or finding a dealer/purchaser like drugs or alcohol. While the idea is not new, it seems to have had a resurgence of popularity recently. A study of 837 students in Texas found that 1 in 7 played the “game” at some point since the age of 14. 72% reported to play the game more than once. The main reasons for playing were curiosity and peer pressure.
While choking yourself (and others in a party setting) may seem like just another new way teens are living out youthful invincibility, choking or more accurately, strangulation, is a real danger. A number of people have already died from playing this “game.” Even more people have died from the very real form of violence that is now being masqueraded as a game.
Strangulation was the cause of 26 out of the last 387 known domestic violence related homicides in North Carolina. It is a very serious way to inflict permanent harm or even death. Death can happen in as little 11 seconds. There are three types of strangling someone: manual (literally putting hands around someone’s throat and holding them and/or picking them up), ligature (rope or cord) or by hanging (which uses a ligature to hang someone from another object). When death does not occur, serious symptoms generally do, as much as 36 hours later, such as: swelling of the neck, difficulty swallowing, memory loss, bruising, dizziness, headache, petechiae (burst blood vessels) in ears, eyes or face and even delayed death. So it is extremely important that someone who has been strangled seek medical assistance immediately!
While it might seem common sense that choking one’s self is a bad idea, apparently it’s not. Fortunately, the same study from above showed that discussion of the risks associated with the choking game was a positive deterrent from participating. Talking about things is an often overlooked yet simple and highly effective form of making positive change. As the research shows from the choking game study, simply a discussion about the harms of choking one’s self can save lives.
Similarly, voicing your support of someone who is experiencing intimate partner violence, or telling them that what is happening is not their fault, or telling anyone that violence is not a way to solve or handle their problems can impact and change someone’s life. Sometimes we don’t speak up because we take it for granted that what we know or what we think is understood by others. Sometimes we feel like voicing a topic, such as the dangers of strangulation or of the importance of respect in a relationship, is unnecessary because it is basic knowledge. Even if it is, these kinds of messages always bear repeating.
So, talk it out. Don’t miss an opportunity to enforce positive and healthy messages to those around you.
Many thanks to the Orange County Sheriff’s Office for their help with the facts about strangulation presented in this article!