Choking is a deadly ‘game’

March 23, 2010

By Alex Tucker

Alex Tucker

There are many activities that high school students are told to abstain from. Teens are advised against smoking, doing drugs, skipping school and other destructive behaviors.

One dangerous trend that is not often covered, though, is a deadly activity teenagers have dubbed ‘the choking game.’

This is the practice of cutting off blood flow to the brain to achieve a natural high. The key is for the person to release pressure from their neck just before they pass out. But too many teens have died from not freeing themselves soon enough. This ‘game’ is often played with friends and, even more risky, alone.

This ‘game’ has been going on for many years, but the recent use of bonds such as ropes or ties has contributed to its growing fatality rate, in addition to more kids doing it alone. The organization Games Adolescents Shouldn’t Play, also known as G.A.S.P., estimates that between 250 and 1,000 teens die each year from the choking game, but statistics are hard to track, because many are reported as suicides.

A place that has experienced firsthand the deadly effects of the choking game is Issaquah High School. On March 30, 2009, the choking game took the life of Issaquah sophomore Kevin Tork. As a student with good grades and a dedication to learning, his death came as a shock to many students.

“I sat next to him in math, and when I came into school one day to find that he was gone, it just blew me away,” junior Hayley Vickers said. “It was very unexpected, because he was the last person I would ever think would go that way.”

Perhaps the most frightening part of this growing trend is easy access to instructions. Sites such as YouTube explain in detail how to play the choking game, and the lightheartedness shown in the videos only encourages teens to try it. The videos do not discuss the immense risk and danger of it; they only portray the choking game as being fun.

The choking game is not an activity to be taken lightly, and the consequences of participating in this immensely dangerous ‘game’ can be devastating.

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One Response to “Choking is a deadly ‘game’”

  1. Kirsten Johnson on March 24th, 2010 8:22 pm

    Great Article! This game is so dangerous. I remember hearing about Kevin Torks death last year and it was so sad and unexpected. With more education about the choking game, hopefully more deaths like his can be prevented.

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