Choking; a dangerous game with deadly possibilities

by C.F. David

In the Panhandle of Oklahoma, we'd like to think we are isolated from big city problems. But we know that cigarettes, alcohol and drugs are just below the surface in the lives of our children. We know they are there, but often we turn away, or even give a knowing wink. After all its just ______, (at this point you may wish to insert cigarettes, beer, wine, alcohol or marijuana), it's not like it's the “hard stuff.” But now, in such blissful ignorance, lurks another danger. According to information circulating among students in the Boise City Elementary and Junior High School, self-asphyxiation has arrived in Cimarron County ; it's no longer a big city, bi-coastal problem.

The choking game, where an individual either with assistance or by themselves, applies pressure to the neck until passing out, is known by many names such as: Airplaning, America dream game, Black out game, Breath Play, California High, Choke Out, Dream game, Fainting game, Flat line game, Funky Chicken, hyperventilation games, Knock out game, Pass out game, Rising sun game, Space cowboy, Space monkey, Suffocation roulette or the Tingling game. At best, the child will pass out, have short dreams and awaken with arms and legs aquiver; the worst case scenario, stroke, brain damage, or death.

Boise City Elementary Principal Mark Newton wrote about the deadly game this week in his column. It is a proactive response to remarks overheard by an adult on a field trip.

Newton explained that students on the field trip were overheard talking about the game. An adult chaperone became concerned and voiced those concerns to Supertindent Dan Faulkner.

“Mr. Faulkner then brought it to my attention,” Newton said.

“I have no idea, how prevalent this might be,” Newton admitted. “But I spoke to every grade level of our students last Friday. For those students from fifth to eighth grade, I had Boyd Perry, (An Oklahoma Highway Patrol Trooper), cover my back. He approached the students with the physiological aspect, of how passing out is the body's self-defense mechanism,” Newton added.

“This is not a game,” Newton emphasized, “It's dangerous, and these kids are doing it to themselves and to each other.”

While Newton said there doesn't seem to be any age limits on those experimenting, (nationally), reports of a choking incident at Headstart are not true. However, some of the pre-schoolers have indicated they have knowledge of it,” Newton said.

Newton added that some of the attraction seems to be that children seem to think it's a “Safe high” and an option to avoiding drugs and or alcohol.

“We are just trying to inform them that this is not a safe high,” Newton said.

“If we find that any of our students are doing this to themselves, there will be immediate, parental involvement,” Newton said. “But, if we find that they are doing it to another student we'll consider that a student to student assault, much like taking a knife and sticking it in them. We will then immediately call the police,” he said.

Self or joint asphyxiation is not a new problem, it seems to be generational, and perhaps the parents of some of the students experimenting once did so themselves.

A call to other area school administrators drew concern, but no solid proof that the “game” had spread further into the county.

Superintendent Richard Gleaves of Keyes, expressed concern after he had heard of Boise City 's problem at a basketball game last Friday. But Gleaves said they have had no indication of similar problems on the Keyes Campus.

“I am not aware of any problems,” said Superintendent Jim Wiggin, of Yarbrough. “But, we will put feelers out there, and see what we can find,” he added.

Barbalee Blair, the Superintendent at Felt agrees with Gleaves and Wiggin that she is unaware of any problems on her campus.

“I've heard of the game, but I was not aware it was a problem in our area. This means I need to go and talk to my teachers,” Blair said.

The potential of the problem becomes even more plain with a simple GOOGLE search on the Internet. By typing in The choking game, one can access multiple pages for the 179,000 hits.

Boise City News
P.O. Box 278
105 W. Main Street
Boise City, Oklahoma 73933-0278
Phone: 580 544-2222
Fax: 580 544-3281
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