Kids are accidentally killing themselves because of a viral game.
We’ve heard about dangerous trends online like ‘Blue Whale’ and the ‘Tide Pod Challenge.’ While those two have names that could pass off as innocent, there is one that parents all over are fearing.
‘The Choking Game’ involves choking yourself until you ‘lose consciousness’ to get a sense of euphoria when you finally allow yourself to breathe.
Game instructions used to be spread through word of mouth, with kids playing together and taking turns choking the other. Now, millions of how-to videos on asphyxiation are just a few clicks away, and so kids are more likely to ‘play’ by themselves using belts and shoelaces.
‘The Choking Game’ has apparently been going on for a long time. Some reports date as far back as 1930, yet it’s still happening today.
‘The Choking Game’ is also referred to as the ‘Pass-out Challenge,’ ‘Flatliner,’ and ‘Space Monkey.’
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDCP), in the U.S. alone, 82 people have died as a result of the ‘game,’ spread out from 1995 to 2007. The victims were between the ages of 6 and 19.
From 2000 to 2015, it was reported that more than 1,400 children and teenagers have died from ‘accidental hanging and strangulation.’
An article by TIME notes that that is just 500 less than the number of children and teenagers who died in accidental shootings during the same time period.
Canadian mother Sharron Grant started the site ‘Games Adolescents Shouldn’t Play’ or GASP.
Sharron lost her 12-year-old son Jesse in 2005. Jesse had been playing ‘The Choking Game’ with a rubber computer cord and accidentally suffocated.
Sharron, together with volunteers and fellow parents whose children fell victim to similar deadly trends are working to raise awareness and teach better internet education.
Another victim, Garrett Pope Jr., was just a ‘normal 11-year-old kid’ from South Carolina whose life was cut short when he accidentally strangled himself as part of the fatal trend.
Garrett’s father shared a heartbreaking Facebook post.
Many children who participate in these dangerous trends either hear about it from peers or stumble upon them online.
A quick YouTube search turns up more than 36 million results for “how to play the pass out game” and more than half a million more for “how to play choking game.”
In December 2017, YouTube announced it would increase efforts to ‘stop the spread of potentially dangerous videos.’ YouTube is employing more and more moderators to take down videos that threaten child safety, including any and all ‘Choking Game’ footage.
Last December 4, YouTube said it had reviewed ‘nearly two million videos’ for violent, extreme content and removed ‘more than 150,000’ of those videos since June.
Hopefully more efforts will continue to be done to stop these ‘games’ from happening.