The « Choking Game » is a voluntary strangulation game practiced by one or more people. Thé goal is to expérience a new and exciting sensation.
This expérience , apparently harmless, has very serious conséquences including death.
Widespread around the world the « Choking Game » practice is difficult to detect because it is not of a violent or suicidal nature, it is a dangerous game.
It affects mainly children and teenagers between the ages of 4 to 20 years. In response to this tragedy responsible adults ( parents and teachers etc…) have only one effective weapon : prévention. To educate oneself and others for a better understanding of the problem. It is essential to look for the signs in children in order to save lives.
Since October 2000 parents affected by this deadiy game rallied round and formed APEAS an association opposed to the practice. Their goal : to distribute information of the dangers of the game to as many people as possible. APEAS works with relatives, professional people and the young people themselves who know about and corne into contact with this dangerous game.
A better understanding of this deadly game
Under it’s many different names the « Choking Game » seems an innocent practice offered by a mate or a group of friends.
The principle of the game is simple by :
- 1 Enforced hyperventilation by fast leg bending and deep breathing.
- 2 Holding the breath and applaying pressure ont the carotid artery and by compression of the breast bone.
Following the above a fainting fit occurs with some hallunications.
Another form of this game is « Tomatoes Game ». The children hold their breath as long as possible which can also result in a blackout. Some followers of the practice become addicted ; it is extremmely dangerous when alone or even in a group. The practice can lead to irreversible after affects and death.
"Choking Game" Playing this game with several friends in the playground can lead to the youth trying again whilst by themselves. The risk become more severe whilst alone as there is no one to call for help in the case of prolonged unconsciouness.
Who is affected ?
The practice may seem harmless but it can affect every child who is curious to discover for themselves or are infuenced by the pressure to participate from a person or a group of people or by movies, the internet etc…
The practice can start as early as nursery or primary school age and can affect girls or boys from 4 to 20 years old and coming from all walks life, therefore, it is important to be aware at an early stage.
Death an After-effects The first recor of this kind of incident is from 1950. Since 2000 about 10 deaths are registered every year in France by APEAS (who are not aware of every case). Several children will have permanent after effects (epilectic fits, paralysis, irreversible vegetative state) depending on the length of the coma.
Experience, Challenge and Innocence
The name « Choking Game » can sound an amusing and and exciting sensation.
Many young people seek a new experience in the game and go into it completely unaware of the dangers.
Teenagers seek to take up a challenge and try to live nzw and exciting experiences.
Expression of violent or suicidal behaviour in the game are rare.
Why we have to speak to the young ?
An accurate explanation of all the risks and consequences can be a deterrent. On the other hand, silence or toning down of the explanations can lead to fantasy and possible attraction.
When they are well informed about the risks, children and teenagers generally stop this game as they were not so aware of the real dangers beforehand.
Prevention is on two levels :
- 1 Parents taking part can spot dangerous tendencies in their children and give them some usefull information.
- 2 At school teachers, supervisors, nurses etc… must know the reality of this practice and give relevant information in their educational establishments.
Look Discretely for Alarm Signs
The Choking Game practice is not in any way a suicide attempt. The activity is rarely associated with strange behaviour.
Warning Signs for Parents
- Suspicious marks on the neck (sometimes hidden)
- Lace, string, belt, scarf constantly in possession of youth
- Headaches sometimes violent and reoccuring. Ear pain
- Lack of concentration
- Redness of the face
- Mufled sounds in the bedroom or against the wall (when the youth is alone and falls)
- Questions asked about the effects, sensations or dangers of strangulation.
Jessica (15 years) : a friend, Ludovic, used his hand to stop his breath and stopped just before collapsing when he felt the hallucinations coming on and dizziness. « This game is deadly which which I didn’t realise before » he said.
Gaëlle (15 years) : about 4 years ago I knew a group of friends playing this « Choking Game » to achieve new sensations.
Frédéric (22 years) : I remember 10 years ago I praticed this game but differently : My friend hugged me around the ribs very tightly until I fainted. I came round 2 minutes later. I didn’t think at this time that it could be dangerous to play this game !
The after effects, either long or short term, associated with the strangulation practice is the result of lack of cerebral oxygen.
Strangulation leads to suffocation followed by a fainting fit. The heart can stop momentarily. Before the fainting fit people will feel several sensations : dizzy spells, unsteadiness, point of light in the eyes, blurred vision, buzzing in the ears.
Cerebral Anoxia :
This is a lack of axygen which can lead to mental slowness, intensive and reoccurring headaches, sleepiness, trembling and muscle spasms, epilectic fits, amnesia, or death. Consequences are different according to the length and the intensity of the oxygen deprivation. A severe Anoxia, more than 3 or 4 minutes, leads irreversible cerebral lesion.
"Choking Game has many name according to the places or areas where it is played. The more widespread are : Indian Dream, Blue Dream, Frog, Lung's Game, Coma, Cosmos, Tomatoes Game, Napkins Game, Fainting Fit.
Many thanks to Jane, Loretta and Keith for this translation of the French APEAS brochure.
We are particularly grateful to the organizations, associations or foundations that support our actions … and in particular the AIR FRANCE Corporate Foundation, which enabled us to realize our new website.