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News From the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
March 26, 2008

Unintentional Strangulation Deaths From the “Choking Game” Among Youths Aged 6-19 Years—United States, 1995-2007

JAMA. 2008;299(12):1418-1421. doi:10.1001/jama.299.12.1418

MMWR. 2008;57:141-144

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The “choking game” is defined as self-strangulation or strangulation by another person with the hands or a noose to achieve a brief euphoric state caused by cerebral hypoxia. Participants in this activity typically are youths.1 Serious neurologic injury or death can result if strangulation is prolonged. In recent years, news media reports have described numerous deaths among youths attributed to the choking game. Because no traditional public health dataset collects mortality data on this practice, CDC used news media reports to estimate the incidence of deaths from the choking game. This report describes the results of that analysis, which identified 82 probable choking-game deaths among youths aged 6-19 years, during 1995-2007. Seventy-one (86.6%) of the decedents were male, and the mean age was 13.3 years. Parents, educators, and health-care providers should become familiar with warning signs that youths are playing the choking game.2

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