Children risk death with choking game

Otago Daily Times 4 Dec 2010
The growing prevalence of the choking game in New Zealand schools has prompted the Ministry of Education to circulate a warning to parents and caregivers to be vigilant about the safety of their children during the summer holidays. The schoolyard game involves young people choking themselves or others to get a sudden rush, and some schools had circulated their own warnings after a 12-year-old Tauranga boy was thought to have died playing the game last year. However, the Ministry of Education has now circulated an official warning to parents and caregivers through schools about the dangers as the number of young people ending up in emergency departments after accidentally harming themselves was growing. In an email sent to all primary, intermediate and secondary schools this week, Ministry of Education deputy secretary Rawiri Brell said the summer holiday was a time when parents needed to be vigilant about the safety of their children. “This game is dangerous and can end in death. The danger is increased if the child is alone when they try it,” he said. “This game can start as an innocent risk-taking experience, but if the brain is starved of oxygen, serious consequences – including death – can occur.” Mr Brell said signs of people playing the game included marks or bruises on the neck, bloodshot eyes, bleeding under the skin of the face and eyelids, and the presence of unusual items, such as dog leashes, ropes, scarves, bungee cords and belts.