A dull, dormant life can not be fully responsible for the rise of the infamous “choking game” played largely amongst kids, but it surely must be a contributing factor. The constrictive and restrictive nature of school, regulations, non-active lifestyles and anti-socialised extra-curricula activities must be factored into the increased popularity of this dangerous game.
Although the choking game is not new, very little research has been done to investigate how often it happens or which kids are more likely to try it. But the new study published today in the journal Pediatrics gives a snapshot of who is engaging in this risky activity.
Researchers surveyed nearly 5,400 Oregon eighth graders, and 6.1 percent reported playing the choking game at least once in their lives. Among those who had played, 64 percent had played more than once and 27 percent had done it more than five times. Boys and girls were equally likely to have participated.
The researchers found that kids who participated in the game commonly engaged in other risky health behaviors. About 16 percent of boys and 13 percent of girls who reported using alcohol, tobacco or marijuana on the health survey also reported playing the choking game. Girls who reported being sexually active were four times as likely to participate in the choking game as those who had never had sex.
Robert Nystrom, adolescent health manager at the Oregon Public Health Division and one of the study’s authors, said it’s significant that kids who play the choking game are also experimenting with alcohol, drugs and sex.
“Risk-taking is a part of normal adolescent development. The fact that a lot of adolescents are participating in these behaviors shouldn’t surprise us,” Nystrom said. “What we want to do is prevent it.”
Nystrom noted that the choking game is different from autoerotic asphyxiation, where the goal of near-strangulation is sexual gratification. In the choking game, kids simply seek the rush that comes from passing out.
Before adults become hysterical about this growing trend, I ask them to consider the life of a standard teenager and reflect on what we can do to help them appreciate the real thrills that life has to offer.