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It’s all over YouTube and it is scary. Kids playing a dangerous and sometimes deadly game called The Choking Game. Kids know the game by other names–the Scarf Game, Cloud Nine, Purple Dragon, Space Monkey, Fainting Game and more.

If you haven’t heard of it, you join about a third of pediatricians who are unaware as well. Schools need to be aware as well. A teacher was accused of allowing her students to play this game at school under her supervision.

The “game” has been around for years but has surged because of the Internet. All a tween or teen needs to go is search YouTube for videos on how to play. They can watch people fainting to get high. Basically, the goal of the game is to self-strangulate in order to get high.  I know it sounds bizarre but kids get high by using ropes, scarves, or other items to momentarily strangle themselves in order to achieve a high. The high is achieved by the oxygen rushing back to the brain after it is cut off temporarily. A variation on this is having one person take a deep breath, hold it and a second person hugs that person from behind until the first person passes out.

Kids think this is a non drug way to get high, so it must be safe. It is anything but safe and in fact can lead to accidental death. Since 1995, 85 children have died from playing this game. Other side effects of playing this game can be coma, stroke, seizures, brain damage, broken bones and hemorrhages of the eye.

The CDC has put out a list of warning signs. They include:

Marks or bruises on the neck
Bloodshot eyes
Wearing clothing that covers the neck, even in warm weather
Confusion or disorientation after being alone for a period of time
The presence of unusual items such as dog leashes, ropes, scarves, bungee cords, and belts
Severe headaches, often frequent
Secretive behavior, irritability, hostility
Bleeding under the skin of the face and eyelids

Parents be aware! Your child could play this game thinking nothing bad could happen. You must talk about this and educate your child on the dangers. In fact, show your child this story of Ryan, a once vibrant 15-year-old who is now disabled.

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