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Oregon Youth and the Choking Game

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Now here is a scary one reported from the CDC. The "choking game" seems to be a little too popular among Oregon 8th graders. For those of you who have not heard about this activity - basically a person strangles themselves or someone else to achieve euphoria associated with the (hopefully) brief hypoxia.

Sadly, this activity resulted in 82 deaths during the period between 1995 and 2007 and most victims were adolescent males aged 11 to 16. The activity can cause long-term disability and even death. To assess the prevalence of the "choking game" among 8th graders in Oregon the Oregon Public Health Division added a question to the 2008 Oregon Healthy Teens survey.

The results from the 7,757 youth who answered the choking game question suggest that, among 8th graders:
  • 36.2% had heard of the choking game;
  • 30.4% had heard of someone participating; and
  • 5.7% had participated themselves.
In addition, the report suggests that both males and females were participating equally and youth living in rural areas were more likely to have participated in the activity than youth living in urban areas. Participants were also more likely to report mental health risk factors and/or substance abuse.

The results suggest that professionals working with youth be aware of the game and discuss the seriousness of the possible consequences with them.


Photo credit: star5112
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About the Author

Dr. Brown is a developmental psychologist specializing in adolescent health.

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