A dangerous and sometimes-deadly game is spreading among teenage Facebook users called “The Choking Game.” Using the hashtags #thechokinggame and #passoutchallenge, teens post photos and videos of themselves strangling themselves or others, which causes a lack of oxygen to the brain that induces a temporary feeling of euphoria.
The game is extremely dangerous; at best, it kills off brain cells and causes participants to faint and lose consciousness. At worst, it’s deadly; according to the nonprofit organization Games Adolescents Shouldn’t Play (GASP), 900 reported deaths have been attributed to the game. However, as the organization notes, the true death toll could be higher because many such deaths are attributed to suicide. And even if teens that participate don’t die, losing oxygen to the brain can still cause serious medical issues like comas, seizures or hemorrhages.
According to GASP’s data, the most common ages for teens to die from the game are 12-14 years old. A Center for Disease Control (CDC) study found that 87 percent of victims were boys.
To prevent teens from playing the game, the CDC recommends discussing its risks and looking out for warning signs, like bloodshot eyes, marks on the neck, teens wearing high-necked shirts even in warm weather, frequent headaches or the unexplained presence of collars, ropes or anything that could be used to choke.
As for social media, it’s always recommended to monitor your child’s Facebook page for any strange behavior or photos. They may not like it, but it could help save a life.