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The Informed Parent

A Dinnertime Topic for Discussion: Have You Heard of the Choking Game?

by Lori A. Livingston, M.D., F.A.A.P.
Published on May. 19, 2008

If you ask a few adult men in your life, several are likely to recall a game they or other kids used to play at school…a game with life-threatening consequences, and one your own children maybe playing right under your noses.

It’s been called the “choking game,” “pass out game,” or “space monkey.” It involves intentionally choking oneself with a noose or a friend’s hands in an effort to obtain a “high” or euphoric state caused by a brief lack of oxygen to the brain. However, permanent brain damage or death can result if strangulation is accidentally prolonged.

This game has been “played” for generations in different ways, but some kids are now even playing the choking game alone. They may be using belts, ropes, etc., thus putting themselves at extremely high risk for accidental strangulation.

Even young children are at risk, and boys in particular are vulnerable. Ages of death range from 6-19 years, with almost 90 percent being boys. These deaths may be mistaken for suicide by hanging.

Parents should be aware of this game and educate their young children to prevent these tragic consequences.


  • Bloodshot eyes
  • Marks on the neck
  • Severe headaches
  • Disorientation after spending time alone
  • Ropes, scarves, and belts tied to bedroom furniture or doorknobs, or left knotted on the floor
  • Unexplained presence of dog leashes, choke collars or bungee cords.

Don’t delay. Talk to your family tonight.

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