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The Death of David Carradine and The Choking Game

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The death of David Carradine, while bizarre, may actually shed some light on a dangerous practice engaged in by preteen and teenaged kids.

(For those who do not have children, I would hope that this tragic event serves as a warning to everyone that, at some point during any liaison, the “how far should this go?” line is drawn when a rope is introduced into the equation. Clearly when the rope is placed around one’s neck an alarm should start blasting in one’s brain: "this, me thinks, is far enough". Quentin Tarantino stated that Carradine, “would have relished dying in such mysterious circumstances.” Let me help Brother Tarantino out here. I do not think anyone would relish dying in a circumstance such as this one, categorize it "mysterious" or what you will.

What is alarming is that asphyxiation and the potential brain injuries or death is becoming common among kids. The process is known as the “choking game”, "blackout game," "pass out game," "scarf game," or "space monkey".

"The choking game involves intentionally trying to choke oneself or someone else with one’s hand or a noose to attain a brief euphoric state or high. If the strangulation is prolonged, which is something that can happen very quickly, death or a serious injury can result," explains Robin Toblin, PhD, MPH, of the CDC’s National Center for Injury Prevention and Control.

More than 60 deaths have occurred since 2005. However, it is likely that the number of deaths is understated since choking game deaths often look like suicides. In almost every instance, parents of children who died were not familiar with the “game” and had no idea her/his child engaged in the practice.

Parents should make an effort to look for any activity or sign that a child may be engaging in this activity.

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  1. aacg says:
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    I think something’s missing in Robin Toblin’s quotation. What “happens very quickly”, WITHOUT ANY WARNING, is loss of consciousness, turning any rescue mecanism useless.