In Pasadena, last November, two students were caught playing the game. That's why the school district is now trying get the word out about how dangerous it can be.
Pasadena ISD police gave us several videos they got off YouTube, showing teens from around the country, whose identities we are not revealing, playing the choking game. In one, a girl is choked by a friend. In all, the teens find the result amusing. Pasadena ISD police say this "game" is anything but.
"This is not a game," said Cliff O'Quinn with the Pasadena ISD Police. "You don't die from playing games."
Officer O'Quinn says the CDC has determines more than 10 kids per year die accidentally while making themselves pass out. They do it, he says, for the euphoric, momentary "high" that results once pressure is released and blood flow resumes to the brain. Sometimes, O'Quinn cautions, children use rope or a belt, accidentally hanging themselves after they pass out.
He warned, "It can claim your life the first time you do it."
If it doesn't kill, experts say it can permanently harm. In one video a teen shakes after passing out. O'Quinn says that's a sign that he is having a seizure due to the lack of oxygen to his brain. Millions of brain cells are killed every time that oxygen flow is interrupted. Some victims have been known to be left brain dead.
Parents who saw a presentation on this trend call the information eye-opening.
"Just watch your kids," advised parent Tricia St. John. "Be involved in their lives and their friends' lives."
There are several tell-tale signs a teen has been playing the choking game. They include:
- Inexplicable marks or bruises on the throat
- Frequent, severe headaches
- Redness of the eyes
- Belts, leashes, ropes, shoelaces tied in strange knots
- Unexplained cuts or bruises from falling
- Disorientation after spending time alone
- Locked bedroom doors