OUR VIEWPOINT: Don’t play with your life

2015-06-18 11:08


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WHAT leads children to play deadly games? It is a question many parents will ask themselves after reports emerged this week that a Grade 9 pupil from Pietermaritzburg died at home after playing a game which involves trying to achieve a “high” by cutting off the oxygen to the brain.

Known as the “Choking Game”, a practice where children suffocate themselves to get a quick feeling of euphoria, but are ending up dead.

America’s Centres for Disease Control (CDC) lists warning signs as bloodshot eyes, frequent headaches, marks on the neck, and ropes, scarves and belts found knotted to stop the tragedy before it’s too late.

The “game” is so popular in that country that it has spawned a support group, Games Adolescents Shouldn’t Play (Gasp), a non-profit organisation dedicated to ending the “game”.

The CDC reports there have been over 900 deaths as a result of the dangerous game.

Gasp’s data reveals that the most common age for children to die from the “choking game” is 12 years old, followed by 13 and 14 years of age.

According to the CDC, 89% who died from the choking game were boys. “Within three minutes of continued strangulation (i.e., hanging), basic functions such as memory, balance, and the central nervous system start to fail. Death occurs shortly after,” the CDC website reads.

Children, who survive the game quickly realise the consequences of having played it. For the children who survive, coma, seizures, concussions, or hemorrhages of the eye might occur.

Because children are alone when they play the deadly game, the realisation that they have taken it too far may come too late.

World-champion surfer Shaun Tomson’s son Matthew died in 2006 while playing the “choking game”. Shaun’s book, titled The Code, is an appeal for youngsters to think twice before making a decision that could forever change their lives and that of their families. The lesson he is able to impart to children is unfortunately, one that he was never able to share with his son.

These are some of the deadly games that children are playing. Parents, teachers and friends have an intervention role to play, one that ultimately could save a life

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