Warning from Dad of Abigail Corthals: Talk to Your Kids about the Choking Game

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By Anne Witter | October 27, 2011 11:48 AM EST

Three years ago, HealthDay News cited a study that reported 82 children in the U.S. alone have died from playing the risky choking game, while 93% of the victims' parents were clueless about the game, or that it was being played by their children at all.

The latest reported choking game casualty was a Gold Coast 15-year-old girl, Abigail Corthals, who was found dead in her bedroom with a belt around her neck. Authorities said she died from seeking euphoria from self-strangulation. Her parents were devastated and urged other parents to talk to their kids about the deadly game.

"We talk about bullying, we talk about drugs, we talk about other things [about dangerous things that teenagers do] but never has anyone mentioned about the choking game," Abigail's dad Michael Corthals told ABC 612.  

From the name itself, the choking game refers to self-strangulation, or "friendly strangulation" by others in some cases, for the purpose of seeking thrill or euphoria. It makes one feel 'high' by disrupting the natural flow of oxygen into a child's system, as a child or a playmate intentionally induce choking until one is on the fringes of consciousness. Adults know of the choking game as it has been passed on to many generations almost as if a child naturally learns to amuse himself by choking.

But in many cases, this game was never named. The choking game came up in the U.S. medical literature in 2008, when a study found that 71% of the 82 choking game fatalities were male, and the mean age was 13.3 years.

Also in 2008, a Canadian website that was put up by parents of a choking victim to raise awareness on the game received reports that the fatal choking game had taken the lives of 38 children in Canada.

Since researchers began their studies on the choking game in early 2000, fatal and nonfatal cases have been reported in the United States, Canada, Australia, Israel, France, England, and Ireland.

The choking game is known in other names, such as "blackout game," "breath play," "pass out game," "scarf game," or "space monkey," among others. 

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