Local parents warned about "pass-out game" dangers
Authorities at Marshall Middle School became aware last week of a party in which middle-schoolers helped each other lose consciousness.
They called it “the pass-out game,” said Deputy Chief Dave Moore of the Janesville Police Department.
A parent of one of the participants said a video was made of the “game.” The video was posted on the YouTube Internet site.
Officials at Marshall Middle School got ahold of the video, which has since been pulled from the Web site.
Officials and the school’s police resource officer identified the youths and called them all in for a stern lecture Wednesday, Moore said.
The “game” starts when someone bends over and hyperventilates, Moore said. Then, several youths press on the person’s chest. That apparently restricts blood flow to the brain, and the person loses consciousness.
Other versions of the game on YouTube show one person standing against a wall while another person presses into his or her chest, and the person passes out.
Descriptions of similar “asphyxiation games” speak of people being injured from falls. It’s not clear whether anyone has ever died from the chest-pressure method, but a variant of the game that involves strangling or other pressure on the neck has led to deaths.
Moore said 16 to 20 attended the party.
A parent who contacted The Janesville Gazette and asked not to be identified said he heard that most or all the youths at the party participated.
Then it happened again the next night at a different party, with mostly different young people, the parent said.
The parent worried the game would spread quickly among local youths while parents had no idea what was going on.
“I’m just scared somebody’s going to get hurt,” he said.
Moore said it appeared the first party—the only one he knew about—was well supervised. The youths were in the basement, but the parents frequently descended to check on them.
Moore pointed out that it would be a simple matter to hide such activity, which has no obvious signs, as there would be if the kids were drinking or smoking.
The parent said the video starts with a speech, warning viewers not to repeat what they see.
“So they knew it was dangerous,” the parent said.
Marshall Middle School plans to include information about the dangers of the game in its next newsletter, which will be two or three weeks from now, said district spokeswoman Sheryl Miller.
The school’s police officer also will discuss the problem in upcoming advisory sessions, Miller said.
Several local people of a variety of ages said they had been involved with versions of the pass-out game when they were young.
One young woman described Janesville middle-school girls choking each other into unconsciousness at a party.
“See what peer pressure can do to you?” she said.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR
The Centers for Disease Control list these signs that someone might be playing an asphyxiation game:
-- Red marks or bruising around the neck.
-- Bloodshot eyes.
-- Frequent, severe headaches.
-- Wearing high-necked shirts, even in warm weather.
-- Disorientation after spending time alone.
-- Increased and uncharacteristic irritability or hostility.
-- Ropes, scarves or belts tied to bedroom furniture or doorknobs or found knotted on the floor.
-- Pinpoint bleeding spots under the skin of the face, especially the eyelids, or the lining of the eyelids and eyes.
-- Questions about the effects of strangulation.
-- The sound of a thud in the bedroom or against a wall—which could be the sound of a child falling after playing the game alone.