Dangerous 'choke game' grips Norwegian schools
A potentially lethal playground 'game' from the US is sweeping Norway and teachers are worried it may lead to fatalities, said a report on Thursday.
Children as young as 10 years old are trying to strangle each other until they fall unconscious. They record the 'game' called "Choking Game" on cameraphones and the trend is to post the footage on social media and video-sharing websites, such as SnapChat.
The game was made popular in the US where at least 82 children have lost their lives.
In Norway, schools in Florø have raised the alarm after they realised their pupils were playing the dangerous game.
Principal Geir Knapstad of Flora secondary school in Florø said to Firdaposten: “This game is so dangerous we must stop it right away.”
Fourteen-year-old Lovise Rekdal Jensen, a pupil at Flora, said: “The ‘strangling game’ is quite common. Both at secondary school and all the way down to 5th and 6th grades in primary school.”
Lovise is member of the charity "MOT", which combats youth violence. The pupil has been lecturing other children on the dangers of playing "choking game".
“Choking game” (also known as "fainting game") originated in the US and involves trying to lose one's breath until passing out by another strangling you or self-afflicted hyperventilation. Choking yourself until unconscious is supposed to give a natural euphoric high. Yet the game can cause brain damage.
Doctor Dag Rune Vatle, a phsyician based in Florø, said: “When the brain loses oxygen, it can damage brain cells and result in a cardiac arrest. Lost brain cells never regenerate.”
Dr Vatle added: “Our body has through evolution adapted to the mix of gas that we have in the air. The cells in our body react if the concentration of air in our lungs becomes too low. Our brain cells are the most sensitive to oxygen deprivation.”
Hjørdis Nikoline Østerbø, principal at Ytrebygda school in Bergen said to Bergens Tidende: “I have heard about this 'game’ before, several years ago, while working as principal at another school. Then it was about keeping one's breath as long as it was possible, or strangling each other until one lost breath completely.”
Other kinds of dangerous games at schools Østerbø has heard about or seen over the years include when children drink copious amounts of water very quickly. A game in which people have again died.
Games like the "water" or "choke" games spread quickly as fads among children.
Østerbø advised: “In a secondary school, there will be, from time to time, new dangerous games arising where the young aren't aware of the consequences. It could be difficult for children to stop it by themselves, because it's often about boys and girls wanting to show off to each other. Teachers should try and stop it.”