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Depressed teens at higher risk of playing choking games, suggests study
Feb 15 2019

Depressed teens at higher risk of playing choking games, suggests study

Mental Health

Children and adolescents battling mental disorders like depression are at a higher risk of participating in potentially life-threatening diversions such as “choking games” compared to their healthy peers, suggested a recent French study. The findings, published in the journal Pediatrics in February 2019, reported at least one-time participation of nearly one in 10 teens and pre-teens in this fatal amusement.

Gregory Michel, lead study author, referred to the game as “deadly” and associated it with suicidal behavior in children. “Teens with depression are often bored and apathetic and may be attracted to this thrill-seeking activity,” said Dr. Benjamin Shain, head, child and adolescent psychiatry, NorthShore University HealthSystem, Illinois. Dr. Shain was not a part of the study.

Choking game can be fatal

Choking game is an act of putting pressure on the carotid artery of the neck by using one’s hands, a tie or belt, to temporarily limit oxygen and blood supply to the brain. This dangerous activity is aimed at achieving a euphoric high, achieved when the blood and oxygen supply to the brain is restored.

While it is a dangerous activity to practice even in groups, playing it alone at home may significantly increase the risk of fatal outcomes. In the absence of anyone being present to interrupt the asphyxiation or culminating strangulation, participants are more likely to lose consciousness. It was found that nearly all fatalities from such games occurred when players were alone.

The study further suggested that students with depression had a 2.2 times higher chance of playing the choking game compared to students without depression or any other mental or behavioral issue. In addition, youngsters having conduct disorders such as rule breaking tendency or involvement in antisocial activities were 2.3 times more likely to participate in such games.

Dealing with choking behavior

It is important for parents to talk to their children about the choking game, especially if they notice any possible signs of participation such as bruising or red marks around the neck or discover ties, belts, rope or clothes lying around their room. In addition, a sudden change in child behavior, confused expressions, or bloodshot eyes may also indicate problem behavior.

Researchers warrant health care providers to educate children (especially those struggling with depression or conduct behavior) about the dangerous outcomes associated with choking games and suicidal behaviors. Parents of teens battling such problems should seek timely treatment at a credible mental health treatment center.

Depression among American Teens

According to a study, published in the online journal Psychological Medicine, depression witnessed a steep rise among Americans aged 12 and older over the last decade. The growth rate was higher among adolescents aged 12 to 17, rising from 8.7 percent in 2005 to 12.7 percent in 2015.

The study suggested that the incidence of depression was the highest in individuals with the least access to any behavioral health facility or associated professionals. In addition, such young individuals also displayed higher risk of untreated depression. Depression is a common but serious mood disorder. It can impair one’s ability to think, feel and/or perform everyday activities like eating, working, and sleeping.

Seeking depression treatment help

Untreated depression is related to increased risk of suicidal tendencies and behavior, particularly among teenagers. Therefore, if you know any teen who looks hopeless or shows other possible signs of depression, help them get immediate medical attention. Timely treatment with medication and behavioral therapies can help them regain control over their emotions and thus life.

ADEONA Healthcare of Rancho San Diego, the leading renowned mental health care provider for adolescents and teens aged 12-17, offers evidence-based treatment approaches for depression treatment. To know more about our mental health treatment modalities, call our 24/7 helpline (888) 997-3966 and speak to a representative. You can also chat online to get more information about behavioral and mental health problems and treatments offered.