A recent study published in Pediatrics April 2012 issue showed that 6% (one in 16) 8th graders had played "the choking game". This involves applying pressure to the neck to limit oxygen and blood flow in the hopes of experiencing a "high" or "rush" feeling once the pressure is released and blood and oxygen rush back to the brain. Scary! In 18 years of practice, I have had only a few pre-teens or teens where this came up, but I am shocked how high the percentage is in this study of kids in Oregon.
I suspect kids would deny it or say they had not done it very often, but 1 out of 4 of these Oregon kids said they had done it more than 5 times. Some of these kids may briefly lose consciousness and faint. It is possible someone would become injured with this -- hitting their head, getting a cut or laceration, and possible other injuries. The numbers of boys and girls involved with the "choking game" was the same in this study. These 6% of the 8th graders were also more likely to be involved with sexual activity, drug abuse, poor nutrition, and gambling.
If you hear your children speak about this, see odd bumps or scrapes on the head or face, or see unusual marks or bruises on the neck, ask your child about it. If you are suspicious but your child will not further discuss it you, contact your pediatrician's office to further discuss it.
A good website for more information and support is Games Adolescents Shouldn't Play (GASP).