New research from Sam Houston State University shows that 1 out of 7 Texas college students has played “The Choking Game.” This is a behavior involving the deliberate cuff off of blood flow from the brain, with the purpose of achieving a high. This behavior has also been called “The Fainting Game,” “Pass Out,” and “Space Monkey.”  This behavior is carried out both in groups and with individuals alone.  Methods may include choking oneself or others with a ligature or placing a plastic bag over the head.

The Choking Game has led to several deaths across the country, and this behavior is not limited to college students.  Teenagers and even pre-adolescent children are playing this dangerous game.

There are several reasons why this behavior has become widespread.  First, young people may be using this method to attain a high because they mistakenly believe it is safer than using drugs or alcohol.  Another reason is that young people are often able use this method to to get high without being detected by a drug test, parents, or teachers.  Furthermore, prevention programs have focused on drug and alcohol prevention, and many have not addressed the dangers of the Choking Game.  The college students in the research study stated that the main reason they first tried out this game was curiosity.  Researchers also found that educating young people about the dangers of this game was effective in preventing the behavior.

How to talk to your child or young adult about the dangers of the Choking Game:

  • First approach your child in a non-judgmental, open manner.
  • Ask your child if they have ever heard of the Choking Game, and ask what they think of it.
  • Ask them to tell you what they think the potential dangers of this game may be.  Teens and young adults tend to respond better to conversation rather than lecturing, so keep them engaged.
  • Offer to go online with your child and do some research together about effects of the Choking Game.
  • Strive for and maintain a positive, trusting relationship with your child in order to help keep the lines of communication open.