Teenagers at a St Albans school have been warned against playing a dangerous game which involves holding their breath until they fall unconscious.
Verulam School teachers in St Albans felt they needed to intervene after some pupils started to copy a trend on social media known variously as the ‘Pass-Out Challenge’, ‘Space Monkey’, ‘The Choking Game’, or ‘Suffocation Roulette’.
To complete the challenge, teenagers deliberately hyperventilate until they lose their breath and feel light-headed, then a friend compresses their lungs by pushing on their chest, making them faint.
Variations on the fainting-inducing game have been around since the mid-90s, but it recently gained popularity on social media after videos of teens completing the challenge went viral.
However, players are unaware they risk causing themselves serious damage or even death, as when they pass out the brain is starved of oxygen, which can cause seizures, brain damage, comas, and in worse cases can prove fatal.
In September 2012, a 15-year-old boy playing the game fell forwards onto a glass and cut his neck, losing so much blood that he later died in hospital.
He had been copying instructions on the game from a YouTube video when the accident happened.
An assembly was given to students at Verulam to warn them about the challenge.
Head teacher Paul Ramsey said: “During the final week of last term, we became aware that a very small number of pupils had attempted to copy a trend they had seen on social media.
“The ‘Pass-Out Challenge’, in which people attempt to make themselves momentarily pass out, is clearly a worrying trend.
“We immediately addressed the issue during assemblies in the final week of term and made it clear how potentially damaging this can be. We have informed parents and I am pleased to confirm that we have had no further instances of this occurring in the school.”
This latest trend comes after the 'Blue Whale' game gained popularity in Russia, which involved encouraging teenagers to take their own lives, and has been linked to more than 100 teen suicides.
Article adapted from The Herts Advertiser, 09 June 2017