Unintentional strangulation deaths from the "choking game" among youths aged 6-19 years - United States, 1995-2007

J Safety Res. 2008;39(4):445-8. doi: 10.1016/j.jsr.2008.06.002. Epub 2008 Jul 9.


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 (Andrew & Fallon, 2007). Serious neurologic injury or death can result from engaging in this activity. Recent news media reports have described numerous deaths among youths attributed to the choking game. Because no traditional public health dataset collects 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 (Urkin & Merrick, 2006). Impact of industry: By learning about the risk factors for and warning signs of the choking game, parents, educators, and health-care providers may be able to identify youth at risk for playing the game and prevent future deaths.

MeSH terms

  • Accidents / statistics & numerical data*
  • Adolescent
  • Adolescent Behavior*
  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Asphyxia / epidemiology*
  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, U.S.
  • Child
  • Female
  • Health Surveys
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Risk-Taking*
  • Self-Injurious Behavior / epidemiology*
  • United States / epidemiology