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Choking 'game' a deadly one

California Choke, "Dream Game," "Airplaning," "Space Cowboy," "The Pass Out Game," "The Fainting Game" " whatever it's called, it's not a game. Most commonly and accurately called the "Choking Game," it's an activity pursued generally by youths aged nine to 16.

"We had gotten information from some parents that it was going on and I think, from what I'm hearing, is that a lot of adults aren't aware of it as much as the kids are," said Sgt. Tom Culbert, Mohonasen High School's resource officer.

In the "game," according to Dr. Robin Toblin, the Center for Disease Control's choking game expert, participants deprive the brain of oxygen just long enough to create a feeling of euphoria before passing out. Tools and methods used for oxygen deprivation include hands, computer chords, scarves, dog leashes and ropes around the neck. Another method used is where the participant bends down and tries to induce hyperventilation by taking deep breaths, followed by a strong embrace from a friend.

The "Choking Game" is generally misunderstood by the general public, said Toblin in a Nov. 10 interview with Spotlight Newspapers, and has caused many deaths and injuries, sometimes with long-term effects such as brain damage.

Less severe, but just-as-dangerous, outcomes from the game also include bone fractures, concussion or tongue biting.

"Some children can wind up with lifelong disabilities " they can have hemorrhages to their eyes or end up falling and therefore breaking a bone. We learned where one child broke their jaw playing the game," said Toblin.

The game is misunderstood by its players, said Toblin. Children don't realize the potential severity and danger of participating in such an activity, and many parents aren't even aware that such an activity exists. However, Toblin said there are some clear warning signs that you can look out for if you're worried your child might be playing the "Choking Game."

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