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Health scare of the week: The ‘choking game’

Parents are often not even aware of a perilous way to get high: the potentially deadly “choking game.”

Parents may be quick to warn their children about the dangers of drugs and alcohol, but they’re often not even aware of another perilous way to get high: the potentially deadly “choking game.” A new study of eighth-grade students in Oregon shows that one in 16 has tried the game, in which youths strangle themselves or a friend with their hands, a belt, or a rope until they feel lightheaded; when they let go, “they see stars and the feeling is described as a rush,’’ Thomas A. Andrew, a medical examiner who has investigated the trend, tells NPR.org. Among students who have tried the game, 64 percent have done so more than once and 27 percent more than five times. “With each of those episodes” of oxygen deprivation, Andrew says, “a little bit of the brain is being damaged.” At least 82 children have accidentally choked to death playing the game in the past 15 years—and researchers suspect that many more deaths likely went uncounted or were mistaken for suicides. 

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