The dangers of the 'choking game'

The dangers of the ‘choking game’

The dangers of the choking gameDo you know whether your kids play the choking game? If Gavin Cocks and his wife had, they may not have been forced to deal with the tragic loss of their son Edwin. This highlights how easy it is for us to be totally oblivious to what our kids are doing in their free time, and the consequences their games can have on so many people around them.

Gavin has since spent many hours researching, interviewing and gathering the information that enabled him to put together the local awareness campaign called GASP – Games Adolescents Shouldn’t Play – to be presented to teens, parents and educators nationwide. GASP was founded in the USA where between 250 and 1 000 children die every year, or suffer serious injury as a result of the choking game and other games, like sniffing or inhaling aerosol and butane gases.

‘I’m convinced that had we been given an opportunity for an informed and educated discussion at home about the dangers of the choking game, my son’s death may have been prevented.’

What is the choking game?

It’s an act of suffocation on purpose by cutting off the flow of blood to the brain, in exchange for a few seconds of feeling lightheaded. Some strangle themselves with a belt, a rope or their own or others’ bare hands, or they can hyperventilate; friends can push on the subject’s chest and when the pressure’s released, blood that was blocked up floods to the brain all at once. This sets off a warm fuzzy feeling, which is just the brain ‘dying’, thousands of cells at a time.

What to look out for If you hear your kids and their friends referring to the following, chances are they’re discussing the choking game, or a variation thereof…

Black hole, blackout, flat lining, funky chicken, gasp, knockout, sleeper, snuff, 5 (or 7) minutes of heaven, airplaning, breath play, California high, choke out, lions and tigers, purple dragon, rising sun, rush, space cowboy, space monkey, suffocation roulette, speed dreaming, tingling, twitching, cloud nine, elevator, hangman, Harvey wall banger, high riser, natural high, scarf game, the American dream game.

Visit for more and how to organise a talk at your child’s school.

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