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The “Choking Game,” has become a rising issue effecting youth mainly from ages 9-16. The Choking “Game,” however, is not a game at all, in fact it’s a way that kids can seriously injure themselves or die in an attempt to get a few minutes of lightheadedness. There are different ways to “play” the choking game but it refers to the act of intentionally cutting off oxygen to the brain with the goal of inducing a temporary feeling of euphoria: this could be done by sitting on one’s chest, choking, and/or using ropes or other materials to cut off oxygen. The “game” has also been called other names like the Pass Out Game, the Fainting Game, Knockout, Blackout, Reaper, and Flatliner. With names like that, one would think more would catch on to the deadly consequences. Still, the game has resulted in multiple deaths nationally and even some in our area. Many of the youth playing are honest about their participation, and don’t view it as dangerous as doing drugs or other harmful activities. Columbia Borough School District recognized that youth could potentially be participating in this extremely dangerous activity and so they commissioned the help of Compass Mark and our Lead Trainer, Bevan Allen, to talk to kids about what the Choking Game really is. On December 2nd, there were three different presentations given to youth in grades 7-12. As part of the presentation and discussion, a short video produced by G.A.S.P. (Games Adolescents Shouldn’t Play), was shown. The video outlined what the Choking Game is, what the immediate and long-term effects are, what the student should do if they know someone is doing it, ways to avoid playing, and/or ways to tell others to stop. In addition, the video features audio from a real 911 call where a brother calls in search of help for his twin brother who he finds “blue in the face” in his bedroom. All families were sent home a letter outlining what the presentation was about, the video that would be shown and given the option to not be present during the assembly. After the assembly, Allen facilitated a discussion and question/answer session concerning the Choking Game. Allen said she was “terrified” after asking for a show of hands for anyone who has played the Choking Game or knows someone who has. “It was devastating; all but a few kids raised their hands,” Bevan stated. It is obvious this is a real threat and unfortunately, kids may not truly be grasping how dangerous it really is. Although Compass Mark hopes more school districts will address the game and use our services, it is very possible that not all districts and adults are aware of the issue or sure how to approach it with our youth. An important thing to remember is to keep the line of communication open. Talk to your kids openly about the game; ask if they have heard of it and what their thoughts are. You may even want to suggest your children watch the video. The video can be found here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vq43uqCCJTs. If looking for more information on the Choking Game or how Compass Mark can address it with your district or organization, please contact Bevan Allen, Lead Trainer, ballen@compassmark.org or 717-299-2831.

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