U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) had identified at least 82 deaths of youths caused by the "choking game" from 1995 to 2007, according to media reports Friday.
Boys accounted for 87 percent of the 82 aging 6 to 19 in 31 states, the CDC said, with the greatest number of deaths among boys aging from 11 to 16. The CDC said the report likely underestimates the toll.
In the United States, an unknown number of youths, mostly boys, are taking part in the practice of "choking game," also known as "blackout game," "passout game," "scarf game" and "space monkey."
These teens try to experience a fleeting "high" by strangling themselves with their hands or a noose or having someone else strangle them in order to cut off the oxygen supply to the brain.
"They hope to get a cool and dreamy feeling, as they've described it," said Robin Toblin of the CDC's National Center for Injury Prevention and Control.
The CDC said it appears teens are learning about the practice from peers or from Web videos. Most deaths occurred when a child was alone.
Warning signs that a child may be trying the practice include bloodshot eyes, marks on the neck, severe headaches, the presence of ropes, scarves or belts tied to bedroom furniture or doorknobs or found knotted on the floor, or the unexplained presence of dog leashes or choke collars.
(Xinhua News Agency February 15, 2008)