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When Games Go Too Far.. What To Watch Out For

When does fun turn to foul play? This NPR broadcast prompted this blog. It was so tragic that it inspired us to make sure parents everywhere know the warning signs of these deadly, trendy games our youth are playing.

The broadcast tells the story of a mother finding her son with a belt around his neck and the other end tied to his bunk bed. Discoveries found it wasn’t suicide, but the outcome of the choking game. His idea of a “safe” way to get high ended in strangulation and ultimately, death.

He was playing something called the “choking game” which children are playing to get a quick, short high. The choking game is played by using a noose-like object (rope, ties, scarves, etc.) or actually choking eachother out.

What happens is the brain loses oxygen flow rather quickly, producing lightheadedness. This is a quick process and a person can pass out easily if the pressure isn’t released in time. This is when the game turns deadly and can lead to major injury, brain damage and death.

When the pressure is released before the point of passing out and blood flow is restored, the child will “see stars” and this produces a rush or a high.

Michele Galloway’s son was a bright, happy child but in the drive to be popular, children take risks they wouldn’t normally take. According to a study done by the CDC, since 1995 at least 82 adolescents have died as a result of the choking game.

This isn’t all that’s plaguing our kids. Children are resorting to insane measures to escape from reality. For example, the cinnamon challenge – taking a spoonful of cinnamon spice without any liquid. Vodka eyeballing – injesting alcohol through one’s eye. Playing knife games to see who can move the knife through their fingers or toes the fastest without cutting themselves. Even the game “chubby bunny” – placing as many marshmallows in the mouth as possible – has turned fatal.

To be discussed in another blog, but no less important is the abuse of prescription medications, like cough syrup.

Ways to take control:

  • Be aware of your medications, even over-the-counter
  • Look for marks on neck, arms
  • Look for tools used – scarves, ties, ropes
  • Bowed closet rods
  • Missing groceries (milk, cinnamon, liquor)
  • Online activity and discussions with friends

According to NPR, “participating in the game also engaged in other high-risk activities, such as drug and alcohol use”. Who knows the long term effects of these games but I can tell you, they certainly aren’t safe!

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Speaking of Marriage

Winifred M. Reilly, M.A., MFT

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