In a new study, about 6 percent of eighth graders admitted they had participated in the "choking game," in which blood and oxygen to the brain are cut off with a rope or belt to produce a euphoric "high."
What's more, the researchers found that two-thirds of those kids had played the dangerous game multiple times and many practiced other risky behaviors.
"If kids do participate, they are likely to do it more than once," said lead researcher Robert Nystrom, adolescent health manager at the Oregon Public Health Division in Portland. Of the 6.1 percent who admitted to trying the game, about two-thirds had done so more than once and nearly 27 percent had done it more than five times.
Those who play the game, also called Knock Out, Space Monkey, Flatlining or the Fainting Game, can lose consciousness within seconds, according to the CDC. Within three minutes of continued strangulation, such as hanging, basic body functions such as memory, balance and the central nervous system can fail. Death can occur shortly after, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control.
Those who participated in the game tended to engage in other risky behaviors, Nystrom's team found. They were more likely to be sexually active and to be substance abusers.
Nystrom said that parents need to talk to their children and stay aware of any warning signs of the game activity. That could include marks on the neck, red dots around the eyelid (reflecting hemorrhage) and unexplained headaches, he said.
The study is published online April 16 in the journal Pediatrics.
Source: U.S. News & World Report