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'Space Monkey' craze: Texan students 'get high' by choking each other

Forget bongs and beer, it's nooses now for the hip kids

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Kids these days don't need drugs or alcohol to have fun, according to a new study. The latest craze sweeping American youth - and thus, no doubt, British youth in due course - is "Space Monkey", aka "The Choking Game", in which thrill-seeking youngsters strangle or suffocate themselves or each other "in order to achieve a high".

Putting aside the bong or beerkeg favoured by their parents, it seems that fun-loving kids in Texas are increasingly reaching instead for the plastic bag, improvised noose or heavy weight to place upon one's chest. According to a recent study, nearly one in seven Texas students surveyed had enjoyed being sociably throttled or smothered, generally as part of a cheery group event with pals rather than as a solo Tory-MP-style experience.

“It is our hope that these findings will inform efforts by parents, schools, and community agencies to warn young people about the dangers of participating in the Choking Game," says Glen Kercher of Sam Houston State uni.

Accirding to Kercher the practice of "manually choking oneself or others, applying a ligature around the neck or a plastic bag over the head, placing heavy objects on the chest, or hyperventilating to attain a euphoric feeling" is variously known among the young hipsters of Texas as "the Fainting Game, Pass Out, or Space Monkey". The survey reveals that:

  • 16 percent of students reported having played the game
  • 72 percent of these reportedly played the game more than once
  • Males were more likely to have played than females
  • The average age when students first played the game was 14
  • 90 percent of those who played the game first heard about it from peers
  • Most students reported that others were present when they first played the game

Sadly it would seem that a round of Space Monkey is every bit as dangerous as - if not more so than - traditional student pastimes such as drinking games or a puff on a jazz cigarette. The practice has apparently led to "several suffocation deaths in Texas and across the country", and parents are warned to keep an eye out for telltale signs that their kids might be indulging in it.

We here at The Reg will stick to traditional means of achieving euphoric feelings - or anyway warding off anti-euphoric ones - involving the trusty social lubricant of beer handed out in pint glasses. It's more expensive, but standing about strangling each other or popping plastic bags over each others' heads seems frankly a lot of effort and would be likely to make for boring conversation ("This one's mine I think. Here you go. I see you've got one of those new iPad nanos - any good?" "Aaack! Mmmmf! Gaaah!") ®

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