Choking Game, Passing Out Game, Space Cowboy, Cloud Nine – Whatever the Name, Teenagers are Learning of the Deadly ConsequencesMarch 30th, 2007 by admin
Asphyxiation games have been around for decades – and for some reason the brief euphoric high from lack of oxygen continues to intrigue teenagers. However, several publicized deaths over the past few years, as well as Internet sites like YouTube displaying the game in more threatening variations, are spurring a discussion in schools and among parents’ groups, guidance counselors and physicians. Many psychologists believe that this is a serious issue that needs to be addressed openly and aggressively.
Levi Draher has received national attention after sharing his near death experience. Click here to view a video of Draher’s talk about the deadly game.
In a New York Times article, 16-year-old Draher Casts Light on a Shadowy Game.
GERONIMO, Tex. – Levi Draher, 16, walked to the front of the Navarro High School gym in early March and picked up the microphone before a hushed audience of fellow teenagers.
“I died and came back,” he said.
Levi was found by his mother last Oct. 28, clinically dead, suspended on a rope he had slung across a bunk-bed frame. He had pushed his neck onto the rope, he told the rapt audience, aiming to achieve a surging rush as his brain was starved and then replenished with blood just before the point of unconsciousness.
The rush is the appeal of the choking game – or space cowboy or cloud nine or any of a dozen other names. In most schools and families it remains a subject of deep shadow and denial, students, parents and health professionals say.
“I did it because it felt good and I didn’t think I’d get caught,” said Levi, a slow-talking, sardonic skateboarder and hockey player from San Antonio. “Do I consider myself a miracle?” asked Levi, who told the students he had played the game three times before his accident. “Yes, I do.”
What happened that October afternoon was that Levi passed out faster than he could react and suffered a heart attack, said his mother, Carrie. His brain was deprived of oxygen for more than three minutes.
Levi’s survival and recovery against the odds – three days in a coma followed by a regimen of antiseizure drugs that he still takes – have made him perhaps the first scared-straight, been-there-and-back spokesman against the choking game. And there is a growing audience for his message…
…But the exact number remains uncertain because there has been little real research, health professionals say, and because medical examiners have been quick in the past to rule suicide. Some adults might also dismiss the game as the slumber party goof it was in years past, when constriction to the point of death was virtually unheard of.
But attitudes are shifting. Some medical examiners and pediatricians are looking at the increased teenage suicide rate from suffocation over the last decade and questioning whether dozens of deaths listed as suicide might in fact have been accidental, the result of a choking game experience gone wrong.
In 2004, according to the most recent figures from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 779 children between ages 10 and 19 committed suicide by suffocation, up from 400 to 450 per year from the early 1980s through the mid-1990s, when the numbers began to rise.
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