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Doctors warn public of ‘choking game’ after 11-year-old boy’s death

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – Doctors are warning parents and children after an 11-year-old boy died while playing the “choking game.”

“When you are a kid, you don’t have the ability or foresight to think that something bad can happen from this. So, they do it because it makes them feel good,” says emergency medicine physician at Riley Hospital for Children at IU Health Dr. Brian Wagers.

It is a simple game with deadly consequences. The game has been around for years but seems to be making a dangerous comeback.

“The whole reason people do it is because it gives them a sense of euphoria, almost like a drug feel. So, kids are seeking after that brief feeling of being very happy and being at peace,” said Dr. Wagers.

While playing the game, kids suffocate each other by strangling themselves or others with belts, ropes, or their bare hands. This cuts off the flow of oxygen to their brain and causes an intoxicated feeling when oxygen rushes back into the brain.

“Another way is that kids will breathe very, very, quickly and try to hyperventilate to get that tingly sensation. Then, they hold their breath very forcefully and try to increase the pressure or have someone push on their chest,” said Dr. Wagers.

The consequences can be deadly. Just last week an 11-year-old boy in South Carolina accidentally killed himself while playing the choking game. In the last decade, the CDC says more than 80 people have died from the game.

“The game causes their heart to go into a rhythm that is not compatible with life. So, it throws their heart into a crazy arrhythmia and it makes your heart rate go way down and makes your blood pressure drop and that is what makes kids pass out,” said Dr. Wagers.

Warning signs to look out for in your child are bruises around the neck, blood shot eyes and frequent or severe headaches.

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