Hundreds of teens have died playing this old, but popular game
COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) -
A troubling and alarming old game has resurfaced on social media. Teens across the country are passing out to get high, and the consequences could be deadly.
It begins with rapid breathing, then a sudden gasp of air, and pressure is applied to the chest.
Then it happens, the person holding their breath faints. Some fall to the ground, others have seizures, or worse.
The game has had many names over the years, but the players and the goal are the same: a quick high and a good laugh.
"As you go in and out of consciousness, I guess that's a feeling that they want to experience, but it goes beyond just a little buzz," explains Dr. Clark Gillett of the Columbus Regional Family Medicine Residency Program.
The terrifying actions are taking place on sidewalks, and in homes across the country. Teens can be heard laughing hysterically at their friends losing consciousness, but Gillett says this is no laughing matter.
"By hyperventilating, they bring about chemical changes in the blood that suppress the body's need to breathe. They faint, and before the blood changes back to the point where they can breathe again, they may have suffered brain damage," Dr. Gillett says.
We spoke to several people in Columbus who say they have never heard or seen anything like it before.
"I would like to talk to my grandchildren. I sure would. I want to tell them to be careful, and not to do anything like that," Columbus native Debra Dozier says.
"These kids just don't know how life works. They're ignorant to how life works, and that things like that really do cause serious injuries. But it's time to make them aware," Columbus State University student Helen Pier adds.
The choking game became popular almost a decade ago.
In 2005, 120 injuries were recorded world-wide. By the following year, that number rose to more than 150 injuries. The trend began to fade, but not before causing hundreds of deaths, according to Gasp.com.
"There's a lack of oxygen supplied to the brain, and if that last long enough, then death could occur," Dr. Gillett warns.