The Choking “Game”

In the News

Sharron Grant, a mother of three, arrived home on April 23 to discover something no parent should ever witness. Jesse, her 13-year-old son, had been strangled to death by the cord from his computer. He hadn’t committed suicide, but this was no accident. Sharon said Jesse learned how to play the Choking Game at summer camp. Children at his school had been doing this for years, but on this particular day, Jesse was playing alone.

The Choking Game, also known as the Good Kids High, is defined as strangulation (either alone or assisted) with the hands or a noose to achieve a brief euphoric state caused by a lack of oxygen traveling to the brain. More than 75% of children between the ages of 9 and 16 know how the Choking Game is played or have played it themselves. Studies suggest that more than 250 kids have died since 2001; most are well-behaved and successful children ages 11 to 17. Shockingly, only 25% of parents have heard of the game and only 7% of victims’ parents knew of the game beforehand.

Why are kids choking themselves?

Kids play the game for a wide variety of reasons. The choking game provides a free and legal high which makes it accessible to anyone and everyone. Common misconceptions are that there is no real danger and that it is significantly safer than drugs. This is definitely NOT true. After children try it, they run the risk of becoming addicted to the high. When a child starts playing alone – when most fatalities occur – it is clear the child is struggling with a very serious addiction.

Warning Signs of Kids Playing the Choking Game

In total, the entire game takes less than five minutes from start to finish. It can be done nearly anywhere and no tools or props are necessary. It can be difficult to catch children in the act. Noticing any of the following indicators and taking immediate action may save a life:

  • Discussion of the choking game with friends or siblings (see the list of common slang names);
  • Bloodshot eyes;
  • Unexplainable marks on the neck;
  • Frequent, severe headaches;
  • Disorientation after spending time alone; and
  • Ropes, scarves, and belts tied to bedroom furniture or doorknobs.

Slang Names for the Choking Game

Many kids talk openly about the choking game since they aren’t breaking any laws. Dozens of seemingly playful slang terms have been used to describe the practice, and parents and guardians must be able to identify when children are discussing the game. Terms marked with * are particularly popular.

  • 5 Minutes of Heaven
  • Airplaning
  • America Dreaming *
  • Black Out *
  • Black Hole
  • California High
  • Choke Out
  • Cloud Nine
  • Flat Liner
  • Funky Chicken
  • Hangman
  • Harvey Wall Banger
  • High Riser
  • Hyperventilating
  • Knock-Out
  • Lions and Tigers
  • Natural High
  • Purple Dragon *
  • Rising Sun
  • Rush
  • Sleeping Game *
  • Sleeper Hold *
  • Snuff
  • Something Dreaming
  • Space Cowboy
  • Space Monkey *
  • Speed Dreaming
  • Suffocation Roulette
  • Twitching Game

Stop Kids from Playing the Choking Game

Research suggests that when one student is found to be playing the choking game, inevitably others are playing, as well. By keeping a watchful eye for the warning signs, parents and guardians can address this terrifying trend before it spreads. Share the list of common slang terms children use for the choking game with employees and parents.

What should you do if you discover children playing the choking game in your facility? Before programming begins, make it clear to the children there’s a zero-tolerance policy on participation, just as there is with drugs and alcohol. Set a strong example by strictly adhering to your policies, and explain to parents why their child has been removed from activities and how serious a problem the choking game is.

You Can’t Avoid Talking About the Choking Game

Supervisors and guardians may be wary of talking to children about the seriousness of the choking game. After all, what if our children haven’t ever heard of the game and I’m the one who introduced the concept? As a D.A.R.E. officer put it,

“Would you rather have the kids get the adult version of the details or the playground version?”

Share this information with parents and encourage them to share this valuable information with their kids, especially those between the ages of 7 and 18.

Playground Version:


You’ll get a warm and fuzzy feeling. It’s no big deal You may feel warm and fuzzy, but this is because thousands of brain cells are dying. Brain cells you will never get back.
Nothing bad ever happens. Not true. You can pass out from the lack of oxygen. Sometimes kids need to be resuscitated.
It’s safer than using drugs. Choking yourself is just as dangerous and just as addictive.
Sometimes you twitch…it’s so funny. The body twitches because the brain is experiencing a seizure. At this point the brain damage taking place can’t be reversed.
It’s safe to do if you have friends with you. It is NEVER safe. Pressure on the nerves can cause an immediate heart attack.

Dangerous Games Kids Play

If you were surprised by this information on the choking game you’ll want to take a look at our growing list of the Dangerous Games Kids Play. You’ll be shocked at some of the things kids are doing.

Free Incident Reporting eBook

Get Child Safety Updates

Sign Me Up!*Your privacy is important to us. We will never share or exploit your email address.