Some 79,000 Ont. students play choking game: survey
Published Thursday, May 1, 2008 12:06PM EDT
TORONTO - Some 79,000 Ontario students are playing a dangerous "choking game" which has killed at least 82 kids in the United States and has sent at least 72 Canadian kids to hospital, a new survey released Thursday found.
The 2007 Ontario Student Drug Use and Health survey, by the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, found about seven per cent of kids in grades seven to 12 have played the so-called "choking game'' where someone intentionally chokes themselves or is choked by someone else to the point of almost passing out.
The lack of oxygen induces a brief state of euphoria or a high.
Dr. David Wolfe, director of CAMH's Centre for Prevention Science, said teens have always been fascinated with "altered states'' but said parents need to educate themselves.
"Activities such as the choking game are not new, but it is important that parents are aware of these behaviours and are prepared to speak with their children about the dangers of these and other risky activities,'' he said in a release.
At least 82 kids have died in the United States playing the game in the last decade while 74 Canadian kids have been sent to hospital.
One 12-year-old Barrie-area boy, Jesse Grant, died in April 2005, after choking himself on a computer cord. He learned the game he called "black out'' at summer camp the previous year. The game is also know as space monkey, the scarf game, and the pass-out game, and five minutes to heaven, among other names.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control recently warned parents to be on the lookout for signs their children might be playing the game.
Signs include bloodshot eyes and marks on the neck, frequent and severe headaches or the unexplained presence of items like dog leashes, choke collars, bungee cords or ropes, scarves and belts tied to bedroom furniture.